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VOL. 9 NO. 1 



This month's cover is Japanese 
artist Sachio Yoshida's 
version o! Sandro Botticelli's 
famous painting The Birth 
of Venus. Through the efforts of 
i. '/.'snticth- century science, 
the goddess's qualities of eternal 
youth and beauty may 
someday belong to all of us. 











Nuclear Reactors 

Paul Bagne 



Olive Barker Profile 

Murray Cox 



Astronomers versus 

Owen Da vies 



Mind Scan 

Stephen Robinett 



Mechanical Zoo 

Erik Larson 



Aging Research 

Kathy Keeton 



Bionic Man - 

Pierre Galletti and 
Roberl Jarvik. M.D.'s 



S-jroqate Brains 

Gram F|ermedal 



Life Extenders 



Born-again Genes 
and Youth Pills 

Ann Giudici Fettner and 
Pamela Weintraub 



Laser Face-lifts 




Immorality Seekers 

Kaihar ne Lowry 




How Man Ages 

Susan Ellis 




Pamela Weintraub 




Psm' Bagne and 
Nancy Lucas 




Leah Waliach 




Terry Runte 




Stephen King 



P-c:orial. Space Art 

Ron Miller 




Leo Daugherty 



UFOs, etc. 



Tools for Ihe Year 2C0i 



The Great Moon 
Buggy Contest 

Douglas Colligan 




Scot Morris 



By Kathy Keeton 

^Rather than 

spending millions on studies 
' forecasting a bankrupt 

■ Social Security system,; the 
{'government should 
^channel this money into 

■ ■■■longevity research ■$. 

Throughout' history we've accepted the ' 
inev;tabls process o* aging, fairing prey to 
nature's cruel impose 'o slowly exhaust 
the once body io compromise (he 
once active brain. Frar;k;y. we've had no 
■ ..other-choice'. Butsoon..we : rriaybeable to 
. -trade .the. yi 

■-hat we now face for decades of productive 
■ : health Art • * n 

daring scientists has negun to.chafenge. 

'One of life's iTiOst basic tenets- 'ha! al : 

of -us must die. 

The burden o; finding a cure for the 
disease called old age weigh;; heavrv 
upon their compoleni shoulders Tnese 
brave and visionary -^en ana women 
■ are/forced to wage two disimc bines 
one against old age. the nfner aga.nsl 
insufficient funding The medical estao- 
fiShment, displaying a naivete so typical Of- 
the oro'essloo has long nasi a skeptical 
eye on ;he neib of lie extension and 
financial backing Ipr even ■ he most 
conservative o ; ongevity srverbsrs is 
hard bought. Unfcriunaiely aging has 
always peon the stepchilu or '"ecica : 
research. !n 1985 'tie National Institutes o ; 
Heah.n spent $1.1 billion on cancer 
studies. S716 million on cardiovascular 
disorders. Vet the [icnaf msiiiufe on 
Aging, had ;us; $61 nririon in is coffers for 

i research on aging. 
And there's ii:t'e Indication "ha; sueli 
funding will increase greatly in the ''ulure. 

■ ■■i.i ■ rim ■ ■ : .■■■!■■,■..■.■■ „ v |, ■ 
46 years in 1900 io 71 years -u- 1986 for 
toe average American maie- ■ result don 
advances against disease rahcr :ham 
■he aging process eso'l. Though these 
advances have been appreciable, fully 36 
percent of people ever age of sixty- 
five suffer f'om a 1 leas- on.; chronic 
degenerative dness. Too cost is stagger- 
ing both ipr individuals ana tcr society. 
The United Slates spent $837 odie-n 
on heai^h care in 198«. One Third of 'his 
wen' io care tor ;he eioeny Medicare and 
b '■■ he :le Spent n ■■! ■.;! .i on . .. ac I 
In ihe yea- 2000 the elderly veil need 
ib-ee nmes i 

1980 Nearly 2 mbi-on wd live in nursing 
homes, up from 1.2 million six years 
ago. in av we' i spenc S200 bibon a yew 
on heaiih care ror the aceo I 1 we 
continue on out present path, how wu we 
cope, both in economic anc social 
term., ■.;. t i ■. u- <,■■ "i ..■ ■.■ ■<■, ■. ■■ i, i ,° 
'he pop ilabom it .seo '" ; sixfv' ■ ' i low 
will we function when a ia'ge percentage 
of out people are Ivm on pensions''' 

It's c-sar that politicians are hi nd to the 

millions of del ys or; sludi; fore-: ■ tin i . 
bankrupt b'ocai Securry system. :hey 
should channel fiirs money mre longevity 
rescamh, so that peop e, even at the 
age o; ens hundreo and order, would oe 
able to lead Vf-iling ' ves wltn bcaies 
> ' are slit; nioloGycany in and minds [hat' 
continue to thi'S: for xiicwleege. 

hs act as 

! 'he 'I,/ :.',:.,■: ■::!■ i 

■ now confronting a maturing Am-eecae 

sc - :sis .. 

■ including hearing, lung function-, reflexes, 
and ur ■; pi /. g< .i ■■/:>■. ;:s can detei 

lfi i , in essence,:'. ■ 

. a measure of how much ano hew quickly 
an mdi\ in i < 

consider thi: 

for longer, heai'thie-' lives. 0;he r critical 
breakfh rouges are sure to follow. Pioneers 
like Roy Walford, author and professor 
at UCLA er ..-.■■■■■ iim: m ■ 

■ suspected "supergenes" that may control 
. itheaging process. Otho- scientists, wke 

Ge rgpV 

Goldstein, are focusing en the thymus 

gland, the immune system's master g!and' ■■':••' 

■ ■■■ ' ' ron;. ogis bel ..e tea! tl yrno 

sins may protect us iron's the diseases of 
old age Far mo:e radios; experiments 
under way mvove ransoiauiing brain 

■r .u--.. ,i. ■,,...: , ; |ihy brain ceils may 

be I. i|t :■■■!■ ■ i ■■■::" i:H ... i 

the ora'n. rejuvenating botm msnd and 
body. Many oi those therapies wourc be 

The mosi reaust'C and Immediate goal 
t ■ i-i exteiisi' ■' eat: n isio ram to 
:' extend youth..' 

; strongly believe that one day al! of us 

Will i .:■: ;u :.::■>■ ■ : . ;■ i. ■ j ■ ,. i . . it ,■,■■. , 

'rvee. Tiits philosophy is not new ;o Omni 
reeco's— life extension after a;l. has 
been one of Omnf's Ice-nost interests 
i i ■ i ;■ gazne rnte founded ex;hl 
yea-s ago. yb,jr keen interest in this tooieis 

latied us 
to dedcate cut olgnth-annivo;sary osue to 
thequest for iiTimeiiaiiiy. 

It thi past I iol ■ : j .!.■■■ ,■ and I fiave 
fun, | 

do so agam Bur the icoere: gcvemrnent 
must now take ,p th . an: fha o ■on ;c ■ 
long eft to concerned private citizens 
Only the 'ederai government can supply 
money ano resources on the scale that 

Th.s month we begin ;-;.. proves one 

■ •I'tiii i nui ■,.■■! i ■ ;i,-, ■- ■ .', i „:;ek. more 
years of health and productivity: a rer'iabre, 
readable sourer, of nelp-u : information 
for the layman "his month Longevity is 
ocrn. GuiUed by a bo 

so ; entists. our monthly newsletter wb 
interview pro inen rest u i m i -i -or! 
their discover es. and toil you how to ease 
the effects of age. "he rows from today's 
biochemists, plastic surgeons arid geron- 
fologists s thai you car. stretch out those 
,' ,:■ i jo.iir.. wiilfeii you how 

The right to a long and hoanhy life should 
be available to ai : people. ;i sbculd be 
as fundamehtat as the ight io =r ee speech. 
Only through !ne suslalnerl en'orts of 
scientisis with adeeuare ntnds and limitless : 
vision can such a rigf;; be ensured.CXl 

Kathy Keefo.n's Woman of Tomorrow will 
be Pleased by Si Main's Piess this 
rrittnih in paperiK-ick. as we// as in seven 
■o'e-'oe eid'iicns. Kcelon is ine president 
-QfOmhi. . 



^^\ s part of the 1971 Apollo 15 

#^^* mission, astronauts James Irwin 
# » and David Scott toured the 

moon in Rover, the first car to roam the 
lunar surface. Fifteen years later, as part 
of Omni's special eighth-anniversary 
issue, readers have the chance to design 
the next lunar vehicle, built to compete 
in an imaginary road race called the 
Omni 2000 ("Racing with the Moon," page 
170). The entries, moreover, will be 
judged by an illustrious panel of experts, 
including Irwin, Mario Andretti, and 
Leonard Nimoy. The grand prize: passage 
on Society Expeditions' Project Space 
Voyage, a journey that's literally out of this 
world. During an 8- to 12-hour ride 
through low Earth orbit, the winner will 
experience extraordinary views of the 
earth and dozens of majestic sunrises. 

Not only is the moon buggy contest our 
most exciting reader challenge ever, 
but this month's special section — 
Longevity: an exclusive report — reflects 
the most extensive investigation conducted 
by Omni writers to date. We sent contrib- 
utors zigzagging across the country, 
tracking scientists seeking the secret of 
longer life. Researchers spent hours 
on the phone and buried in reams of paper. ■ 
The question we posed again and again: 
Can we extend the maximum human 
lifespan beyond the current 115 years?' 
The convincing answer is yes. 

For millennia human beings have sought 
a magical potion that would prolong 

youth. It seemed a fruitless endeavor — 
until now. In "Elixirs of Youth" (page 60) 
writer Ann Giudici Fettner and Omni 
senior editor Pamela Weintraub report on 
hormones that will bolster our immune 
systems, viruslike vaccines that slow cell 
death, and even uric acid to prevent 
the destruction of our genes. By 2086 
there may also be life extension pills and 
enzyme drinks to aid in DNA repair. 

'After all our investigation for this story," 
Weintraub says, "I'm convinced there 
are very real possibilities to increase life 
expectancy by at least another fifteen 
years. And I'll certainly be the first in line 
for the supplements that will do just that." 

Research on aging, however, is greatly 
underfunded. As a result, many 
dedicated researchers, such as oncologist 
Bill Regelson, have looked for ways to 
build their own capital to finance their 
work. And they often rely on philanthropist 
Don Yarborough and others to lend 
support, according to Texas-born Kathar- 
ine Lowry, who profiles these and other 
determined pioneers in "Death Avengers" 
(page 84). Omni president Kathy Keeton 
(First Word, page 6) also strongly urges the 
government to underwrite the work in 
this neglected area of medical science. 

Even, the most optimistic researchers 
admit that we will remain mortal beings. Is 
there no way to cheat death? In "Souls 
on Ice: Cryoscience" (page 116) freelance 
journalist Paul Bagne and Omni assistant 
editor Nancy Lucas discuss the efforts of 

cryonicists — those technicians who 
preserve a corpse in liquid nitrogen in 
hopes of reviving it at a later time If some 
insects, shrimp, and other creatures 
can do it naturally, they say, it should be 
equally possible for humans. "I had 
guys attempt to recruit me for the process." 
Bagne remarks. "But I'm still unable to 
reconcile their relationships with their 
clients. They talk about this loving rapport 
during life, especially in the final days 
before deanimation. Then they turn around 
and nonchalantly decapitate the person, 
saving just the head, which they say 
will eventually regenerate another body." 

The human body and its regenerative 
powers are miraculous. In "Sentries" 
(page 122) writer Leah Wallach describes 
how the immune system's antibody 
warriors combat cancer cells; in "Lifelines" 
(page 91) Longevity newsletter editor 
Susan Ellis describes how man ages and 
what can be done to stave off the physi- 
cal effects of growing older. 

There are different ways of viewing the 
future. Stephen King's "The End of the 
Whole Mess" (page 72), for example, is a 
tale of good intentions gone awry. It is 
King's first original story to appear in 
Omni. On the other hand, Ron Miller's 
"Days of Future Past" (page 76) recounts 
Collier's magazine's two-year campaign 
In the Fifties lo develop the space 
program's potential. It's an insightful look 
backward at a magazine's ability to help 
influence the future.DO 



Out of the Mouths of Babes 
"Cosmic Comets of the Sea'.' [July 1986] 
is an intriguing article on an important 
scientific discovery. When Louis Frank 
decided to reveal his findings, he knew he 
might be considered a "nut" by other 
scientists. But he put his respectability on 
the line to further. science. 

I may be only twelve years old, but I 
really enjoyed the heated debate and was 
impressed by the way Frank defended 
his arguments. I congratulate James 
Ehmann on a splendid piece and Louis 
Frank tor his courage and intelligence. 

Dave Breusfer 
Winnipeg, Man. 

Comrades in Arms 

I would like to clarify a misconception left 
by Jerome Clarke's article "Militant 
Debunkers" [Antimatter, June 1986]. The 
Committee for the Scientific Invesiigation 
of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) 
aoes approve ot and cooperate with 
many anliparanormal groups. 

Although these groups are autonomous, 
CSICOP has encouraged their activities ■ 
when their aims are similar to ours — 
to examine fairly and objectively the claims 
aboui the paranormal. CSICOP recog- 
nizes such organizations as A-STOR 
REASON, and TUSKS and applauds their 
efforts. Clarke is incorrect in labeling 
them "militant debunkers." 

Barry L. Karr 

Affiliate Coordinator 



Marine Land 

As a marine biology student I appreciated 
your Mysteries of the Deep issue [July 
1986]. The ocean is the next frontier to 
conquer and will provide needed 
resources in the future. It is important for 
the public to "understand what marine 
biologists «re accomplishing today. I 
especially enjoyed the interview with 
Robert'Ballard. He is one of the pioneers 
in oceanography and should be given 
the recognition he deserves. 

Chris Pranis 
Southhampton, NY 

By the Book 

I was surprised by Arthur C. Clarke's First 
Word (July 1986]. I have read most of 
his books, and I've come to think of him 
as a person who is not bound by conven- 
tional theory. Yet he stated that we know 
what other lite forms will not look like: 
"If the terrestrial experiment started all over 
again at Time Zero, there might still be 
intelligence on this planet, but it wouldn't 
look like us. In the dance of the DNA 
spirals, the same partners would never . 
meet again." I don't know why Clarke 
is setting limits on himself. 

Richard Klassen 

MBC Studios 

Winnipeg, Man. 

Whale Watch 

The explanations for why whales get 
stranded on land were not exhaustive 
["Whale Suicides," Earth. July 1986], 
Toxic waste, sewage, defoliants, and acid 
rain do affect our oceans. Has any scien- 
tist considered the obvious? These 
magnificent creatures are probably highly 
intelligent beings and "know" that life in 
an excessively polluted environment 
is a fate worse than death. 

J- S. Buck 
Banff, Alta. 

States of Comfort 

I read the article "The Terror of Relaxation" 
[Continuum, July 1986] with particular 
interest because I have supervised and 
taught relaxation techniques for more 
than 25 years. The results have been 
positive and sometimes nearly miraculous. 
Rarely have I had an indifferent or 
negative response. 

I am appalled at the commercial 
exploitation of instant procedures used 
by individuals who don't know what they're 
doing. They read a book or purchase 
devices for measuring the body's response 
and then begin to guide other people 
into the uncharted regions ot inner space. 
When a teacher administers relaxation 
methods properly (tie effects are both 
beneficial and delightful. 

Peggy Genova 
Tucson, AZDQ 


We are quickly approaching the day 
when we will be able to extend our lives 
through artiticial means. Physicians will 
replace our hearts, our tendons, even our 
blood vessels, with man-made compo- 
nents. While advances in artificial-organ 
technology are being made every day, do 
the present risks and enormous costs 
warrant continued research? Wilt science 
ever improve on what nature has 
bestowed? Is the artificial heart a thera- 
peutic extravagance? We asked these 
questions ot Dr. Robert Jarvik, inventor of 
the Jarvik-7 heart; and Dr. Pierre Galletti, 
who is creating an artiticial pancreas. 

The notion of replacing a nonfunctioning 
organ with a spare part borrowed from the 
animal kingdom (a transplant) or fabri- 
cated through human ingenuity (a pros- 
thesis) has been a landmark of medical 
progress in the past few decades, and 
man-made organs have a definite place in 
our lives. Otherwise, why should more 
than 2 million Americans a year receive a 
cardiac pacemaker, hip replacement, 
vascular graft, mammary prosthesis, 
plastic lens implant, or any of the less- 
celebrated devices that are so widely 
used we forget their "bionic" character? 

i am not concerned about a widespread, 
misdirected use of the artificial heart. In 
the short time since the pioneering exper- 
iment on Barney Clark, surgeons have 
concluded that present-day technology is 
not sufficiently advanced to warrant 
extensive use of a permanent prosthesis 
They rely on the artificial heart as a 
temporary bridge to keep candidates for 
cardiac transplantation alive while waiting 
for a donor. Common sense, as much 
as ethical sense, has turned it into a 
useful tool for special circumstances, 

My landlord in Providence is a ninety- 
three-year-old doctor whose ransom 
to age is a painful case of degenerative 
joint disease. A few years ago arthrosis in . 
both knees brought him to a complete 
standstill. The pain was so excruciating 
that he needed massive doses of analge- 
sics, which in turn depressed his vital 
functions and compromised his - 
independence so profoundly that he 

18 | OMNI 

needed to be committed to a nursing 
home. An orthopedic surgeon saw that 
repairing the knee joints could break 
the vicious cycle of decay and decline. 
With two artificial knees, Dr. J is now back 
home — ambulatory, independent, and 
of clear mind. The bionic revolution in 
medicine should not be expected to 
promote longevity but to exlend active life 
expectancy and to enhance independent 
living. If we accept this, much of the 
controversy surrounding the use of artificial 
organs evaporates. 

The notion of organ replacement is 
shocking only to the extent that our culture 
has hot yet assimilated it. As it becomes 
commonplace we will also appreciate its 
Jimitations. It makes sense to replace a 
nonfunctioning part in an otherwise 
working engine. The increasing longevity 
of mankind makes us appreciate that it 
is not so much life expectancy that counts 
but an active, independent lile. 

Artificial organs and transplants are not 
a recipe for immortality. They are useful 
inasmuch as they prevent premature 
death or an early loss of body functions. 
They will not make us live beyond the 
time allotted by our genetic background, 
but hopefully, they will keep us function- 
ing lo the last moment. 

Pierre Galletti, M.D. 

Professor of Medical Science 

Brown University 


There is a valuable future in what many 
call bionics,-- We can sustain life, alleviate 
suffering, and replace at least the 
function of most organs. 

The first pacemaker was the size of a 
portable TV and was wheeled around 
on a cart. Nuclear pacemakers, the size 
of a cigarette pack, were developed 
and were rapidly made obsolete by more 
practical technology: Lithium batteries 
and microcircuitry shrank them to the size 
of a stack of a few silver dollars. Modern 
pacemakers work reliably tor a decade. 

The story is the same for a score of 
other developments in bionics. Usually 
early setbacks with cumbersome devices 
are followed by remarkable success. 

The term bionics often suggests 
implantable replacements for diseased 
organs. This field of medicine really deals 
with a range of technology applied to 
better our lives, not just to prolong life. 
Many artificial organs— such as the 
heart-lung machine and the artificial 
arm — are not even implants. Artificial skin 
can be a fancy term for certain wound 
dressings. And many artificial organs — 
the total hip prosthesis, implantable 
intraocular lenses— do little lo effect 
longevity. But they greatly improve the 
lives of the people who use them. 

I am president of a company called 
Symbion — a combination of symbiosis and 
bionic — a. name we coined to suggest 
i.ho bonc-ificial coexistence between 
the body and technology. Our goal is to 
effectively interface the two. Medical 
technology can do things we never 
imagined a century ago, and it will do 
things we haven't yet imagined. But after 
years of work on the artificial heart and 
other medical devices, one thing has 
become apparent to me: The improvement 
of our health is as important a goal as is 
Ihe prolongation of life. 

Motivation and responsibility for taking 
care of ourselves can never be delegated 
to a doctor, a nurse, or a computer. 
Replacement organs may be much better 
than their diseased counterparts, but 
they usually lack the broader capability of 
the healthy original. The huge advance 
of medical technology is a sloppy excuse 
for poor individual preventive care. We 
need much more exercise. We should stop 
overeating and smoking. 

I would take an artificial heart in an 
instant if it were my only way to live. But I 
never want one. I don't smoke, I exercise 
regularly, and I keep trim. Some of us will 
need bionic parts, and I believe it is 
well worth the energy and investment to 
continue to advance them. Technology 
won't save us later, however, if we let 
ourselves go now. So whoever you are, 
quit smoking. By the time you need a new 
heart, despite everything we now know, 
at least you won't have lung cancer. 

Robert Jarvik, M.D. 
Salt Lake CityDQ 


By Paul Bagne 

In the Fifties— the days of Atoms for 
Peace — nuclear engineers dreamed of 
rocket ships propelled by ions, and 
coffeepots healed by plutonium. Today 
they dream of nuclear-power planls 
in space. Solar power will never do: To 
obtain the huge amounts of energy needed 
for star wars would require solar panels 
the size of football fields — too easy a 
target for enemy forces. And on missions 
to distant planets or for work on the dark 
side of the moon, there isn't enough 
sunlight. To date, the United States has 
spent $1.4 billion on space reactors — but 
has launched only a tiny, 500-watt test - 
model that ran for 43 days and still circles - 
the earth in a high, "nuclear safe" orbit. 

Nevertheless, the dream refuses to die. 
The Department of Energy (DOE) is 
presently developing and hoping to test- 
fly a reactor powerful enough to run 
Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) platforms. 
And the Mational Commission on Space 
envisions orbital labs and human settle- 
ments "from the highlands of the moon to 
the plains of Mars"— many of them 
powered by atomic reactors. 

The U.S. space program has more 
experience with anolher, quite different 
source of nuclear energy— the radioiso- 
tope thermoelectric generator (RTG). 
It's not a reactor but a chunk of plutonium 
sealed in a container. As the plutonium 
decays, it produces enough heat to 
generate a few hundred watts of electricity. 
To power SDI platforms, DOE plans to 
design a larger RTG that will contain 
considerably more plutonium. RTGs 
powered the Apollo lunar-surface experi- 
ments and the Voyager missions, and 
will power the Galileo mission to Jupiter 
and the Ulysses mission to the sun. 

Until the shuttle disaster these two craft 
were to be mounted on Centaur rockets 
and were scheduled for. separate shuttle 
launches last May. Their RTGs would ■ 
have contained about 45 pounds of 
plutonium. NASA had assessed the danger 
of a launch accident releasing this radio- 
active element, regarded by many 
scientists 'as the most toxic substance^ 
there is. "The risk should be small," wrote 
the agency, "due to the high reliability 

inherent in the design of Ihe space shuttle." 

After the Challenger explosion and 
launch failures of the Titan, Delta, and 
Ariane rockets, critics question whether it 
is safe to send nuclear payloads aloft, 
(NASA has dropped the onboard Centaur 
rocket from future shuttle flights.) To 
estimate the amount of danger that would 
ensue if a shuttle carrying an RTG 
exploded, DOE projected a worst-case 
scenario: If a small RTG were ruptured 
during a shuttle launch, 930 square miles 
around the launch site would be contami- 
nated with plutonium, and 386 cases 
of cancer would result. 

NASA says that the chance of the DOE 
scenario actually taking place is one in ■ 
100,000. If an RTG had been aboard the 
exploding Challenger, "it would have 
survived," says James Lombardo of the 
DOE special-appiications division. "You 
would have picked it up at the bottom of 
the ocean." 

But an RTG as big as a bus cannot 
deliver the power required for some SDI 
systems. So DOE intends to spend $990 
million to build a 300-kilowatt reactor 

shuttle's future? 

called the SP-100. NASA hopes to test-fly 
it in 1993, perhaps as a nuclear-electric 
propulsion system tor a space tug. 
Research is also under way on a futuristic 
reactor that would generate several 
million watts of electricity. It will take 10 or 
20 years to develop. 

Originally designed to tit into the cargo 
bay for launch on a Centaur rocket into 
a high." safe orbit, the SP-100 will be a 
compact reactor cooled by liquid metal, 
"We have looked at all stages of the flight," 
says Jay Boudreau, a nuclear engineer 
at Los Alamos National Laboratory. "We 
have assured ourselves, in the design, that 
the reactor can hang together even 
through reentry of the shuttle in an abort. 
crashing into ihe ocean or into the 
ground. And even if it did somehow come 
apart, it's not really that hazardous." 

The reason; Reactors will be launched 
in a "cold state" — not switched on until 
deployed in space. "If you do get an 
explosion during launch, you're talking 
about spreading around uranium; that's a 
minor concern," says Robert Pollard, a 
reactor engineer with the Union of 
Concerned Scientists. "But I worry about 
the thing coming back to Earth. Look 
atthe difficulty the Russians had with the 
reactor that came screaming back." 

In 1978 the Cosmos 954 reactor fell 
from orbit and showered fission products 
over 100,000 square kilometers of north- 
western Canaca. So~o recovered material 
emitted a lethal dose of 500 roentgens 
per hour. The accident caused a worldwide 
furor and cos! millions to clean up. By 
comparison, the SP-100, after operating 
for seven years, would hold roughly 3,000 
times the radioactivity of the tiny Russian 

"Our designers assure us that it [the 
SP-100] will stay intact if it comes in," 
Boudreau says. The DOE also suggests 
that reactors be used only in a nuclear- 
safe orbit, one with a 300-year decay time. 
"If there were any malfunction or indica- 
tion of reentry," Boudreau continues, 
"we would shut it down. That amount of 
time allows the fission products to decay 
so they do not represent a significant 
health hazard to the world population. "DO 



. By Murray Cox 

I first met horror writer Clive Barker on a 
cold day in late February. We ale at 
an elegant but oddly deserted restaurant 
on New York's Upper West Side, our 
table nestled close to a roaring fire. I felt 
as if I'd suddenly stepped into a medieval 
castle full of macabre, violent incidents— 
a place where the dead never really 
died. The elegance and the desolation. 
the warmth and the bitter cold, seemed 
appropriate for an interview with the 
hottest new horror-fiction writer of the 
decade. Barker has been called the 
"future of horror fiction, the new Stephen 
King"; and that's a difficult role to fill, but a 
role he's ready to take on. He's a boyish 
thirty-three, with dark, penetrating brown 
eyes and a very easy manner. But when 
Barker talks about horror fiction, he's 
passionate, as pointedly vivid as the 
gruesome tales he tells. 

He didn't eat very much. He would put 
down his fork, cock his head lo one 
side, and say, "I'm nol interested in 
prelending that old truths have credence 
when they don't." Through much of the 
interview he seemed in tlight, high above 
the terrain, ready to swoop down on 
me like a primeval bird ot prey. And then 
he would sit on the end of his chair, staring 
intensely into the tape recorder placed 
between us. 

Barker's Boohs ot Blood, volumes one, 
two, and three, are published by the 
Berkley Publishing Group. 
Omni: You believe that horror writing is a 
seriously undervalued but important 
literary genre. What is its importance? 
Barker: Most people think that horror fiction 
is not serious art. And that's odd because 
there's always been a heavy emphasis 
on the horrific in painting, and 
literature. It requires much more scrutiny 
than it gets. I feel that horror literature 
is touching upon the big issues time and 
time again: death and life after death, 
sex afler death, insanity, loneliness, 
anxiety. Horror writers are addressing the ' 
deepest concerns of the human condi- 
tion. Horror-fiction is really about control — 
of various kinds— or about being out of 
control. Obviously death is !he ultimate 
moment when we relinquish control. 

26 OMNI 

Omni: Does it follow, then, that horror is 
such a popular phenomenon today 
because we feel less and less in control? 
Barker: It seems to me that the structures 
that kept us from total panic have fallen 
away. Certainly in what we arrogantly call 
cultured communities, among sophisti- 
cated folk, simple notions like redemption 
through good deeds or the notion of 
heaven or the possibility of aspiring to a 
kind of moral perfection — all these kinds of 
issues have gone by the board. We don't 
believe that stuff any longer. Or if we 
do believe it, we believe it in an atavistic 
way. It may be out there somewhere in 
our system, but we certainly don't have 
structures or rituals that make it possible 
to keep the darkness at bay. We don't 
■have a route to redemption. So we have 
to tind new routes. We have to look for 
other structures. I think good horror fiction 
offers alternative structures or, if not 
a temative structures, surely ways to 
reilluminate the old structures. Peter 
Straub's Ghost Story, for example, is 
actually a reinvestment of an old structure: 
of femme fatale ghost/transformer. The 

Beware: Clive B^w i'-^r.ri:: ;o leirorize you. 

tie-in is sexual. It's about sexual anxiety, 
sexual na'ivete. and lack of control. 
Omni: Many people have written horror 
slories without the gore. I assume that 
you have deliberately chosen to write 
graphic, gory stories. 
Barker: Absolutely. I will never apologize 
for being gross. When people say "stop" 
to me, when people say "don't do that," I 
begin to suspect them. I think they're 
scared or repressed. When people turn 
their eyes away, invariably it's because 
something exists that's just too much for 
them. And if something is too much for 
them, it's important, 
Omni: You have said that most current 
horror fiction is old-fashioned. Is Stephen 
King old-fashioned? 
Barker: King is not old-fashioned. He is 
conlemporary because he describes 
a real world. I'd say that old-fashioned 
horror lacks immediacy. King is a very 
immediate writer. I aim to be an immediate 
writer. We want our depictions to appear 
in the reader's mind with the clarity of 
a movie — that's part of our modernity. I 
want my images to be flashing — you 
know, wham! wham! wham! — whereas 
Poe and Lovecrafl create a distance 
between the reader and the image. The 
experience is safer You're detached. 
Omni: I'm not a horror alicionado. 1 read a 
few of your stories, and I had nightmares 
after reading each one of them. 
Barker; I think I should apologize. 
Omni: No; actually I find it quite (ascinating. 
One night I dreamed about undergoing 
eye surgery withou anesthesia. The 
surgeon stood above the operating table, 
gowned and gloved, and said lhal he 
simply was going to make an incision 
above both my eyes to cut the connecting 
nerves to the eyeballs. I would then be 
able to see better. 

Barker: Really wonderful, I love that! It's a 
beautiful metaphor. I mean, what are 
you dreaming there? Are you dreaming 
about the possibility of pain making 
you see better? I've always wanted to do 
a movie in which angels performed 
surgery on someone without anesthesia. 
There'd be a requiem playing — very 
calm, very sweet. The patient would be 

coming apart, but il would be okay. The 
angels would be saying It's okay. Your 
dream is really interesting. If you hold the 
nasty things at bay, you can't see. I 
mean, your dream is about seeing clearly 
And I think horror is about seeing clearly. 
I like happy stories, and realiy your dream 
was about a revelation. 
Omni: Okay. You say you write happy 
stories, but your critics say your world is 
nihilistic and bleak. One critic has said: 
"His characters lead hopeless lives that 
are interesting only by random encounters 
with the appallingly powerful evil that 
. rules his cosmos." 
Barker: A lot of my characters do live dull 
lives, lives in which a metaphysical 
dimension is entirely lacking. The super- 
natural events that interrupt their lives 
may kill them, but their lives are recon- 
texted because they see the possibility of 
the wonderful, the awful, the terrible. It's 
important to have an image of monsters, if 
you like, as creatures who have great 
ambiguity. They're not creatures who come 
in and just screw up. I think the most we 
can hope for in the world is that we come 
to see how complex our situation is. But 
a lot of horror ficlion returns us to the 
old solutions, instead of offering new ones. 
Omni: Why do you use sex so explicitly 
in your stories? 

Barker: Oh! So much of this has to do 
with the Christian paradigm — a lot of 
Christian crap about the tact that the act 
of creation is sacred and that anything 
associated with it should be kept under a 
veil Basically it's all about fear. It stinks. 
Omni: Does il strike you as odd — it strikes 
me as odd — that both King and Straub 
came from religiously conservative, 
fundamentalist backgrounds? King has 
claimed he still believes. 
Barker: I think he is moralislic, but the 
imagination is not moralistic. I often think 
of that line, "We are not hypocrites in 

our sleep." We don't take shit when we 
dream, and when we're writing good 
horror fiction, we're dreaming.'We don't 
have to tell lies. King describes the world 
of his readers, then subverses it. I love 
that. His sensibility is destructive to the 
status quo. He always turns a safe world 
upside down. King's also good with 
children's perceptions. Children have a 
much clearer perception of malice and of 
the way the "real" and fhe "unreal" 
overlap. Children have an instinctive 
knowledge that the world is much more 
complicated than their parents think it is. I 
do that for adults. The adults are flung 
into worlds either because they are 
confronted with monsters or because 
they're drawn by dreams into a world in 
which they are lorced to concede that 
their reality won't bear much scrutiny. In a 
sense both King and 1 are saying that 
fhe world as we are taught it is a lie. 
Omni: Has William Burroughs influenced 
your subject matter? 
Barker: Well, sexuality is close to the 
surface in Burroughs's writings and in my 
pieces. But Burroughs piles image upon 
image with no apparent concern for 
the narrative line. I'll tell you how I write 
stories. I come up with images. I draw 
pictures. I write pictures down. I say, 
"Picture." And I wait. Eventually a story 
appears around the pictures. I have 
hundreds of pictures, images fhat are 
waiting for the birth of the narrative. You 
see what I mean? Burroughs doesn't take 
the narrative structure as far as I do. I 
love writing stories, and I love telling stories. 
I don't think Burroughs cares about the 
story; he's interested in the primacy of the 
image. For me the narrative is the rails 
on which the ghost train rides. You lake the 
passenger along that [rack with a terrible 
inevitability. I love il when people say 
to me, "I hate your stuff, but I can't stop 
reading it." If they say, "I have to find 

lures who have great ambig^iy " 

out what the hell happens, but on the way 
I'm going to be appalled," that's wonder- 
ful. I want to project images into people's 
minds, images they wouldn't otherwise 
accept. It's force-feeding. 
Omni: I was watching MTV the other day 
and thinking about this interview. The 
two "events" collided with each other. 
MTV's a live show featuring our shadow 
selves. The scenes are often violent, 
exploitive, and strange. A kaleidoscope of 
dream images — which is what I experi- 
enced when I read your stories. 
Barker: The best videos plug us into 
ourselves. But so do good movies and 
good theater. That is what the artist is all 
about, isn't it? What is unique about 
MTV is that you can actually sit in front of 
it iwenty-four hours a day. But I don't 
think these "pictures" are analyzed. I try 
to place my images in a structure. I hope 
that at the end of a story you understand 
why the image was there in the firsf place. 
The images that infest our unconscious 
are images that require contexting. The 
doppelganger appears in Jung; actually it 
appears in Freud, too. It's an incredibly 
common image with a fine historical 
tradition. It represents a confrontation with 
another part of oneself. The doppelgang- 
er story means new things to each 
generation. The collective unconscious 
can be reinvestigated. 
Omni: Do you think that we, collectively, 
are closer to the images of the uncon- 
scious, the shadow stuff? 
Barker: Our culture's shot through with 
images of great potency all the time. 
We're confronted with images in advertis- 
ing, television, movies. They contain 
great power to convince and to manipulate. 
But we don't understand them. We are 
confronted with potent material, and we're 
dumb in the face of it. Thai's dangerous, 
much more dangerous than having no 
imagery af all. We're awake in an uncon- 
scious sea and drowning. We have to 
embrace the point where our lives touch 
the unreal or touch the unconscious. 
The conscious can encounter the uncon- 
scious through fiction. 
Omni: If your stuff is authentic, then you 
are constantly dealing with raw, uncon- 
scious material. It's got to affect you in the 
process of writing. 

Barker: It does It does. And here the 
narrative is important. Narrative keeps me 
from drowning. It's like a rhyme scheme 
in a poem, the means by which I order 
experience. I write very fight plots, though 
I try not to make them seem too tight. 
But in faci, they're meticulously plotted. 
There are maybe fifty pages of narrative 
plotting tor the book I'm doing at the 
moment, even before I write the first 
chapter. That doesn't rule out the arbitrary 
factor that comes along. But in order to 
weave through your own stuft, you need a 
guideline. Otherwise I think you end up 
like Burroughs. You end up with a collection 
ot incredible images like MTV, and it's 
processed in a way that I don't find 

particularly valid or satisfying. You could 
call it a cut-up kind of process. It's not 
a process I understand. It implies thai the 
unconscious can process its own 
material, which I don't believe. You know 
that Burroughs implies that if you make 
too much sense, it isn't useful to you. We 
need a combination clone of Dostoyevski 
and Burroughs. The master is Fellini. 
He entices you with just enough narrative. 
You are led from one scene to another, 
scenes filled with outrageous imagery 
plucked straight from the unconscious. 
Omni: During Jung's Ihree-year "confron- 
, tation" with the unconscious, which 
reached what I would call near-psychotic 
proportions, he writes that he would 
stand in front of the mirror and say. "My 
name is Carl Jung; I live at blank; my 
wife's name is blank; [ have blank children." 
He claims that this reality test, this narra- 
tive line, kept him sane. 
Barker: It kept the darkness at bay. Yeah! 
The artist is in a sacred position. I've 
been telling stories since I was knee-high 
to a duck. It's instinctive tor me to create 
narrative structures. The world I live 
in becomes a story. Do you know what i 
mean? The artist can see the broader 
context. One's life is part of a story that is 
already happening. When I see a loved 
one cry, I think, How would I describe 
(his? How wou/d / make a sentence 
to describe what is happening? That can 
be damaging because it distances you, I 
constantly tell myself that what I experience 
today will one day be in the past. I write 
all my fiction in the past tense. 
Omni: Your work has been described as 
having mystical intensity. 
Barker: It's sort of interesting because 
whenever I can, I will take a character into 
mystery. We live in a barren place. We 
live in a barren condition. One of the big 
questions of our age is where to find 
revelation. Where do we look for the angel 

that w:ll co ,v, e on: o : ourselves, even, 
and say, "The world is greater than you 
are — greater than your perspective"? 
I write stories in so many different physical 
locations— cities, deserts, dirty cinemas, 
broken-down theaters — because revela- 
tion can happen anywhere. But don't 
run away. Don't get out your cruGifix. It 
means you no harm. And even if it means 
you harm, it will be better ihan living the 
life you're living. 

Omni: Do you think the violence in your 
stories is qualitative''/ c'iffe'cii from the 
stick-'em-up, shoot-'em-up Rambo or 
slasher movies' type of violence? 
Barker; Oh, sure. You can do just about 
anything to an audience as icng as you put 
them in a place they've never been 
before and they comprehend what has. 
happened to them. We're so locked in 
ourselves. We are victims of our singularity. 
I'm saying, "Look, you may not like this 
very much, but sure as hell you've never 
been here before." That is a major part 
of the fictive thrill, as far as I'm concerned. 
Sartre said that the only thing we can 
never know is our own death, but 1 can 
show you lots of other things— behead- 
ings, disembowelings, boiling oil. That's a 
bit cynical. I know. But sometimes I feel 
like someone who runs a ghost train: "Roll 
up! Roll up! You don't have to buy this 
stuff, but if you buy it there are no limits." I 
even put it on the jacket cover. I promise 
you nothing more than blood, sweat, 
and more blood. 
Omni: Thai's not true. 
Barker: Well, no, except that that's the 
barker's line. That's what happens outside 
the train ride. I don't want to say, "I offer 
you blood and metaphysics." 
Omni: You have a tendency to be very 
hard on metaphysics. Why? 
Barker: I don't think I'm hard on 
metaphysics. Well, 1 am. Let's go at this 
again because this is important. 

e tried to define nothingness. Maybe it stands <cr a ar.e-n B:g Bung number fi 


'vMapnysics is a philosophy of being, 
right? Now, I'm very hard on conventional 
metaphysics. If your daily confessional 
at St. Mary's is metaphysics, then I won't 
be a part of that. But if metaphysics is 
actually seeing what your dreams mean, 
which it can be, or if metaphysics is 
looking at the shuttle going up and trying 
to work out what happened in those 
three seconds — one moment they're there 
and the next moment they're not. ... I 
surely believe in images of a dying god 
and of the mother impregnated by light. 
Tha! is highly charged material. I love 
Catholic imagery. The image of Christ 
parting his chest to reveal a heart floating 
in light with thorns around it— well, that's 
potent. A lot of my Catholic friends have 
calendars with Christ exposing the sacred 
heart. It's an extraordinary image. 
Omni: But it's an image deadened by 
tradition, by repetition, by interpretation. 
Barker: I agree, but there are ways to 
reinvest that image. That's what we must 
try to do, I think. 

Omni: You have been quoted as saying 
you would rather have monsters glowing in 
the dark than the silence of empty space. 
Barker: Absolutely. Wouldn't any sensible 
person? Isn't nothingness the pits? 
Omni: Well. I wonder. Don't you think that 
we are so afraid of that nothingness 
that we will do anything to avoid it? 
Barker: Yes, I do. I very much do. 
Omni: To talk about the "void" — well, the 
bullshit tends to pile up. Or it's an intellec- 
tual exercise. And surely to say that we 
seem less able to face silence than 
our grandmothers or grandfathers were is 
a bit worn out. 

Barker: I've tried to define nothingness. 
The villain of my book The Damnation 
Game brings the void with him. He brings 
absence, the fear of sexuality, the fear 
of feeling. He is nothingness personified. 
The girl Carys is projected into his mind 
at one point and has to confront this 
terrible absence, this terrible nothingness. 
The only thing we can hope for is a kind 
of unity of mind under such circumstances. 
And love will do the job. Really, I believe 
love will do the job. And I don't mean 
sexual love. I mean the chemical attraction 
of one living creature for another living 
creature, someone to stroke in the dark. 
Maybe that nothingness stands for our 
deaths. Maybe it stands for the time when 
we will be absent. Or maybe it stands 
for a time when the entire business will be 
absent, when Big Bang number two 
occurs. There were two questions I asked 
as a kid; What's infinity? You think and 
think, but you can't get there because it's 
impossible to imagine infinity. The other 
question I asked was, What was it like 
before the world began? What was the 
nothingness out of which the world came? 
I think they're the same question. And 
that fascinates me. It's the big one. But still, 
after death I'd prefer hell to nothing 
because in hell I have a chance of talking 
my way out of it.OQ 



By Grant Fjermedal 

I'm sure that Hans Moravec is at least as 
sane as I am, but he certainly brought 
to mind the classic mad scientist as 
we sat in his fifth-floor office at Carnegie- 
Mellon University on a dark and stormy 
night. It was nearly midnight, and he 
mixed for each of us a bowl of chocolate 
milk and Cheerios, with slices of banana 
piled on lop. 

Then, with banana-slicing knite in hand, 
Moravec. the senior research scientist 
at Carnegie-Mellon's Mobile Robot 
Laboratory, outlined for me how he could 
create a robotic immortality for Everyman, 
a deathless universe in which life would 
go on forever. By creating computer 
copies of our minds and transferring, or 
downloading, this program into robotic 
bodies. Moravec explained, humans could 
survive for centuries. 

"You are in an operating room. A robot 
brain surgeon is in attendance. . . . Your 
skull but not your brain is anesthetized. You 
are fully conscious. The surgeon opens 
your bramcase and peers inside." This is 
how 'Moravec described the process in 
a paper he wrote called "Robots That 
Rove." The robotic surgeon's "attention is 
directed at a small clump of about one 
hundred neurons somewhere near the 
surface. Using high -resolution 3-D nuclear- 
magnetic- resonance holography, 
phased-array radio encephalography, 
and ultrasonic radar, the surgeon deter- 
mines the three-dimensional structure 
and chemical makeup of that neural 
clump. It writes a program that models 
the behavior of the clump and starts 
it running on a small portion of the 
computer sitting next to you." 

That computer sitting next to you in the 
operating room would in effect be your 
new brain. As each area of your brain was 
analyzed and simulated, the accuracy 
of the simulation would be tested as you 
pressed a button to shift between the 
area of the brain just copied and the 
simulation. When you couldn't tell the 
difference-between the original and the 
copy, the surgeon would transfer the 
simulation of your brain into the new, 
computerized one and repeat the process 


on the next area ot your biological brain. 

"Though you have not lost conscious- 
ness or even your train of thought, your 
mind — some would say soul — has been 
removed from the brain and transferred to 
a machine," Moravec said. "In a final 
step your old body is disconnected. The 
computer is installed in a shiny new 
one, in the style, color, and material of 
your choice." 

As we sat around Moravec's office I 
asked what would become of the original 
human body after the downloading. "You 
just don't bother waking it up again if 
the copying went successfully," he said. 
"It's so messy. Humans have got so many' 
problems that you might just want to 
leave it retired. You don't take your junker 
car out if you've got a new one," 

Moravec's idea is the ultimate in life 
insurance: Once one copy of the brain's 
contents has been made, it will be easy to 
make multiple backup copies, and these 
could be stashed in hiding places around 
the world, allowing you to embark on 
any sort of adventure without having to 

D,'3 ■■.'';; :::;:r:cui boatiJS 

worry about aging or death. As decades 
pass into centuries you could travel the 
globe and then the solar system and 
beyond — always keeping an eye out for 
the latest in robotic bodies into which 
you could transfer your computer mind. 

If living forever weren't enough, you 
could live forever several times over 
by activating some of your backup copies 
and sending different versions of yourself 
out to see the world. "You could have 
parallel experiences and merge the 
memories later," Moravec explained. 

In the weeks and months that followed 
my stay at Carnegie-Mellon, I was 
intrigued by how many researchers 
seemed to believe downloading would 
come to pass. The only point ot disagree- 
ment was when — certainly a big consid- 
eration to those of us still knocking around 
in mortal bodies. Although some of the 
researchers I spoke with at Carnegie- 
Mellon, MIT, and Stanford and in Japan 
thought that downloading was still gener- 
ations away, there were others who 
believed achieving robotic immortality 
was imminent and seemed driven by 
private passions never to die. 

The significance of the door Moravec is 
trying to open is not lost on others. Olin 
Shivers, a Carnegie-Mellon graduate 
student who works closely with Moravec 
as well as with Allen Newell, one of the 
founding fathers of artificial intelligence, 
told me, "Moravec wants to design a 
creature, and my professor Newell wants 
to design a creature. We are all, in a 
sense, trying to play God." 

At MIT I was surprised to find Moravec's 
concept of downloading given considera- 
tion by Marvin Minsky, Donner Professor 
of Science and another father of artificial 
intelligence. Minsky is trying to learn 
how the billions of brain cells work together 
to allow a person to think and remember. 
If he succeeds, it will be a big step toward 
figuring out how to join perhaps billions 
of computer circuits together to allow 
a computer to receive the entire contents 
of the human mind. 

"If a person is like a machine, once you 
get a wiring diagram of how he works, 

N PAGE 160 

Jim Henson Gives 

Jim Henson has achieved extraordinary audience 
and critical approval from every medium he's had his 
hand in. Educational TV; Sesame Street. Network TV 
Trie Muppet Show. Film; a trio of Muppet movies, Dark 
Crystal, and Labyrinth. His insightful imagination, 
expressed through an enduring cast of creatures, art- 
fully exposes the very best in 
people and media alike. 

"I spent a summer travel- 
ing through Europe meeting 
other puppeteers.That was 
when I first realized it was an 
art form ... the sort of thing 
a grown man could do for a 
"Sesame Street surprised everybody, the impact it 
had on the culture and all. It wasn't like you had to do 
anything dramatic to do a very good job!' 

"I think it's important that movies be about some- 
thing, so that there is that substance to be discovered!' 
"Frank Oz, who does Miss Piggy, builds layers and 
levels of character. He knows her background, what 
kind of painful childhood she's had. Her humor comes 
from the pain'.' 

"If our 'message is anything, it's a positive approach 
to life.That life is basically good. People are basically good!' 

The vision of people like Jim Henson challenges 
the manufacturer to develop componentry capable of 
capturing their art in all its subtlety and nuance. Equip- 
ment like the Mitsubishi 2053 Monitor/Receiver with 
full-square Diamond Vision picture tube shown here. 

For a detailed look at Mitsubishi audio/video 
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to history's first 35-inch direct- view TV 
send for our brochure — Mitsubishi 
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By Owen Davies 

j^\ bout two years ago a group of 
X - ^k astronomers from Steward 
# » Observatory, part of the Uni- 

versity of Arizona at Tucson, asked the 
U.S. Forest Service for permission to build 
an ultramodern observatory on a patch 
of government- owned land called Mount 
Graham. What began as a straightfor- 
ward attempt to construct the preeminent 
observatory in the United Slates has 
exploded into a debate in which the needs 
of astronomy are pitted against a strange 
coalition of activists. 

Mount Graham is a wooded peak 
located in the Pinaleno range of south- 
eastern Arizona. After a lenglhy survey of 
sites. Steward Observatory officials 
decided it was the best place for a new 
generation of astronomical instruments. 

Astronomers make a strong case for the 
location. Mount Graham has the right 
combination of ingredients: still, dry air at 
its peak; an elevation of 11,000 feet, at 
which it is comfortable to work (lack 
of oxygen at higher altitudes makes it 
difficult to concentrate); and a logging road 
already in place, running partway up 
the mountain. "We now know how to build 
much more powerful instruments than 
any we have, and they are severely 
needed." explains Steward operations 
manager John Ratje. 'And we have lo find 
a new site for these major telescopes. 
There are not many left in existing 
observatories. Kitt Peak is about full, and 
Mauna Kea has only three or four sites 
that aren't committed. Other important 
observatories are troubled with light 
pollution. There's just nowhere left to go." 

The dream is lo build 13 astronomical 
instruments, including two radio-astronomy 
dishes, across an area of five square 
miles. The largest telescope would be the 
National New Technology Telescope, a 
multiple-mirror telescope that would 
duplicate the seeing power of a mirror 15 
meters across. Eventually, Ratje says, 
there could be five more eight-meter-size- 
range telescopes— all more powerful 
than any now in use. 

Once completed, the entire observatory 
complex would spread out in a pattern 
forming a ragged 7. But a complication in 

42 OMNI 

building the observatory in the area is the 
richness and diversity of the local 
ecology. "Mount Graham has one of the 
densest bear populations anywhere 
in the country," explains Gerald W. Connors 
of the U.S. Forest Service. Connors repre- 
sents ihe Forest Service at Coronado 
National Forest and heads the learn 
working on the environmental-impact 
statement on Mount Graham. "It has a 
population of Apache trout, now on the 
endangered-species list, and the Mount 
Graham red spruce squirrel, which is 
being considered for the list. There is an 
endangered plant species growing on 
suggested telescope sites," he says. 

Ratje believes the environment would 
not- be compromised by this addition. 
"Naturally we would prefer to use whatever 
sites are best for astronomical work," he 
says. "But if some of these are ruled 
out. there are more than enough alterna- 
tives. We can adapt quite a bit. We have 
eleven possible telescope sites, of which 
only iive would be used. " 

Only 40 to 60 acres of the area's 3,500 
acres would be occupied by construction 

View of the stars clouded by controversy. 

and roads for the observatory, Ratje says. 
The area around the observatory would 
be an unspoiled "buffer zone" between the 
siles and the forested area. 

Tucson engineer Paul Pierce, head of 
the Coalition for the Preservation of Mount 
Graham, is skeptical, lo say the least. 
"When you clear five acres here and ten 
acres there, you feel the impact throughout 
the region," he says. "You disrupt wildlife 
habitats and take away recreation areas far 
beyond where you actually build." 

The proposed observatory has caused 
some surprisingly diverse groups to join 
forces. The Defenders of Wildlife, the 
Tucson Rod and Gun Club, and Ihe 
Arizona Arms Association are all part of 
the coalilion. Pierce himself admits it is an 
odd collection. "People who normally 
wouldn't give each other the time of day 
are working lo stop this proposed devel- 
opment," he adds. 

"II you strip away the scientific trappings 
from this proposal," maintains Paul 
Pierce, "you have a standard development 
versus conservation issue." University 
of Arizona officials disagree, saying :he 
issues are more complex. The area 
has already been partly developed. 
Logging operations have ceared trees 
from ten square miles on the south side of 
the mountain, and on the highest eleva- 
tion of Mount Graham stands a microwave- 
transmission tower operated by the Army. 

The real issue may not be environmen- 
tal. The Sierra Club supports neither side. 
Basically, the activists object to the 
restrictions that would come with having 
an observatory on the mountain. For 
example, no campfires could be lit at night, 
and the four-wheeled vehicles that now 
travel up and down the logging road 
could not use their headlights. 

What happens to the mountain will 
depend, in part, on the contents of an 
environmental-impact statement that was 
to be completed this fall. It will be 
followed by a lew months of public 
hearings, and early next year the U.S. 
Forest Service will decide whether the 
Mount Graham observatory will fade into 
history as yet another unfulfilled dream of 
astronomers. DO 


By .Stephen Robinett 

The same technology that once 
used to hunt submarines from the 
air is shedding light on such 
neurological disorders as epilepsy, multiple 
sclerosis — and may someday reveal 
our most secret thoughts. Nerve cells "talk" 
to one another in the brain through 
electrical signals that generate a weak 
magnetic field, about one billionth the 
strength of the earth's. Now surgeons and 
brain researchers can monitor magnetic 
patterns emerging from the human brain 
with a new computer-based technology 
called magnetoencephalography (MEG). 
MEG may affect not only neuroscience 
and medicine but also job-screening 
practices, the way equipment is designed, 
and even social policy. This technology 
is relatively easy to use: The subject 
either lies down on a bed or sits in a chair. 
A complicated electrical device, known 
as a neuromagnetometer, is placed 
near the subject's head. It acts as an 
antenna and picks up the magnetic fields 
emerging from the brain. 

To appreciate MEG'S potential requires 
some perspective on other types of 

brain- research hardware. First, you must 
distinguish brain function (what a group 
of brain cells does) from brain anatomy 
(where cells are located). Most medical 
imaging equipment — X rays, ultrasound, 
CAT scans — shows location, not function. 
For example, while an electroencephalo- 
graph (EEG) records information related to 
the way the brain is working, it tells almost 
nothing about where an event occurs 
in the brain. 

Currently, PET (positron emission 
tomography) scans can supply information 
on both location and function as well as 
details of the body's chemical interactions. 
PET does, however, carry some degree 
of risk. Ftadioactively.tagged glucose 
is injected into or inhaled by the subject, 
and PET tracks its progress as it moves 
through the brain. The more active a 
particular brain location, the more glucose 
it consumes and the brighter its image 
in the final picture. Bu! PET scans take 
pictures in slow motion, which are based 
on the roughly 20-minuie half-life of the 
radioactive tag. 

MEG equipment combines the benefits 


44 OMNI 

of all these technologies — and it is virtually 
risk free. It senses magnetic-field patterns 
produced by brain cells, locates the 
field's source, and takes a snapshot every 
millisecond. "The key to MEG's value is 
mapping and finding. And (he only reason 
to get a map is to find out where normal 
brain events occur," explains Jack Beatty, 
a physiologist and brain researcher at 
UCLA's Human Neurophysiology Labora- 
tory in Los Angeles. 

Consider the simple task of answering 
your phone. It rings and the sound 
stimulates your eardrum, which sends 
impulses to your brain. Your brain pays 
attention, evaluates, decides on action, 
and initiates impulses to perform that 
action. Each of these activities produces 
a measurable brain event. MEG can 
monitor the entire process from stimulus 
to response. "Our ultimate goal," says 
Dr. Edward Flynn, a physicist using MEG 
equipment at Los Alamos National 
Laboratory in New Mexico, "is to produce 
a four-dimensional picture of the function- 
ing brain." Or as Beatty puts it, to under- 
stand "the physiology of thought." 

Both the Air Force and the Navy think 
this technology may be helpful in predict- 
ing job performance. Greg Lewis, a 
Navy researcher in San Diego, used MEG 
to scan the brains of 60 Navy security 
people. Navy supervisors had previously 
rated these participants according to 
their job knowledge, performance, and 
overall reliability The idea was to compare 
the brain activity of the high achievers 
with that of the low achievers — to see 
whether (here was a discernible difference 
between the two groups. 

To test their hypothesis, researchers 
took MEG readings while participants 
watched a flashing light. Those people 
earmarked as high performers tended to 
be consistent in brain function and to 
have similar readings. Low performers 
showed little consistency from moment to 
moment. And the group showed more 
disparate responses. Lewis hopes to use 
these data to produce a comparison 
baseline for future job candidates. 

Dr. Glen Wilson, an Air Force psycholo- 
gist who uses MEG, hopes his studies 




By Erik Larson 

■^^^ y the end of the year ihe gorillas 
IG^S at the Milwaukee County Zoo 
kvv will be able to watch the midday 
soaps, switch on a little Bach, and check 
out videotapes of fellow gorillas. By 
pressing a specially constructed device, 
they will be able to select their own 
entertainment or simply shut the machine 
off and enjoy the silence. 

This simian home-enlertainment system 
is the brainchild of Hal Markowilz, who 
for 16 years has been cies gmng similar 
contraptions to ward off a major affliction 
among 200 animals — boredom. Marko- 
witz has designed such boredom fighters 
as a live-cricket dispenser to bring out 
the preying instincts of Asian river otters, 
a mechanical rabbit 10 tempt tigers, 
and, coming soon, an exhibit lhat will 
enable polar bears to hunt for their meals. 

'Animals in captivity are essentially 
powerless," says Markowitz, a round, 
genial man with a Burl Ives voice. "We're 
trying to give them back as much power as 
we can— power, for example, to feed 
themselves when they want to instead of 
when a keeper feels like it." 

Markowitz. who is a biology professor 
at San Francisco State University, shies 
from the term boredom. An animal that 
looks bored by human standards may be 
perfectly content, he says. Lions in the 
wild, for example, spend a lot of time 
either asleep or at rest. He prefers to talk 
about the behaviors lhat result when 
captive animals lose the power to influence 
their own lives: to forage, hunt, roam, or 
male freely with members of their own 
species. Such animals tend to develop an 
array of abnormal, repetitive actions 
known to zoo curators as stereotypical 
behavior. Captive monkeys, for example, 
may salute — actually raise their paws 
to iheir foreheads — over and over, like 
privates ai a convention of generals. "We 
know," he says, "that a human being in 
captivity suffers most from a sense of 
powerlessness: the fact that nothing he 
does matters." 

For animals food is central to the issue. 
It plays a big role in an animal's day in 
the wild and can play an equally large role 
in r e:ieving the boredom of captivity. 
Zoos, for example, have discovered that 

Designs tar captive living: Hal Mai 

simple neks can help -scattering snacks 
in hard-to-reach places or feeding 
animals at intervals throughout the day. At 
the Bronx Zoo in New York an artificial 
tree periodically oozes honey for the bears. 
Another device there spits live 
mealworms into an exhibit of sugar gliders, 
members of the marsupial order, provid- 
ing food and diversion at the same time. 

Likewise, food ligures heavily in 
Markowitz's devices. But he adds another 
element: work. He cites studies showing 
that animals will push levers for (heir 
food, even though the same food is avail- 
able f.'oc in Ihe cage, with no need for 
any effort, His devices also give the 
animals a chance to strut their stuff within 
the limits imposed by captivity. 

Consider Milwaukee's planned polar- 
bear exhibit. At most zoos, Markowitz 
says, visitors see the bears behave in ways 
never encountered in their natural 
habitats. "In seventy percent of zoos in 
the world, what kids learn about polar 
bears is that they beg," he says. 

When the Milwaukee exhibit is 
completed these polar bears will be able 
to hunt. From time to time the bears will 
near digital seal sounds, the polar-bear 
lunch bell. They will be able to ignore 
the sounds or to investigate by prowling 
among the rocks in their enclosure. If 
a bear stcKs ns paw inside a particular 
pile of rocks, he will interrupt a light beam 
and, in turn, activate another device 
that will launch lunch (thawed fish, not live 
seals) into the exhibit's pool. 

Markowitz's critics say devices like 
these can turn animals into Pavlovian 
automatons, compelled to respond to a 
given apparatus. They contend his 
machines are unnatural and can give 
exhibits a "circus" flavor. Michael Hutchins, 
a behavioral ecologist now doing an 
internship at the Bronx Zoo, says 
Markowitz's machines may even produce 
behaviors just as abnormal as those 
created by sheer boredom. 

But, counters Markowitz. animals in the 
wild face millions of contingencies and 
deal with them by using jungle smarts and 
the physiological tools designed by 
nature. "I'm not saying, Put them in life- 




Lunch with Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw can be un- 
settling. Ai a conference on aging, I watch as the gul- 
lies in their stroganpff gradually fill and then disappear 
beneath grainy hills of an MSG-based flavor enhanc- 
er. A glance plateside lands on a virtual army of tiny vials con- 
taining BHT, vitamin C, and other assorted dietary supple- 
ments—more evidence of the kind of tampering that has launched 
the careers ol these famous life extension researchers. Their mis- 
sion? To dance into no-man's-land; that age beyond the limit 
bravely staked out by Fanny Thomas, a San Gabriel, California, 
woman who died in April 19B0. 113 years and 215 days after her 
birth. Pearson and Shaw, authors of the best-selling book Life 
Extension, are betting their lives on an array of preservatives, 
amino acids, vitamins, and prescription drugs thai they expect 
will enable them to live on and on and on. 

Sheathed in thick silver bracelets and zipped into snug leather 
jumpsuits that set off well- developed, if pale ("We rarely go out- 
side") pecs, Durk and Sandy sport a styie thai seems at odds 
with their mass appeal. In the four years since their first cookbook 
for life extension hit the bookstores, more than 2 million copies 
have been snatched up. Both aulhors have been regulars on the 
talk show and lecture circuit, expounding on the recipes for stay- 
ing young they have concocted from scientific studies. 

The stated age of both Pearson and Shaw is forty-two, but they 
look . . . about that old. Durk's hair, though long and conspicu- 
ously abundant, is graying, and Sandy leans blose during our 
interview to compensate for her poor hearing. Nonetheless, in 
the- ten years since they began experimenting with-- various life 
extension formulations, both researchers believe they have grown 
younger. In fact, they have generously submitted their bodies to 
countless clinical tests that indicate their "true," or biological, age 
may actually fall far short of their forty-two years. 

"We have Ihe lipid panels of teenagers," boasts Pearson dur- 
ing a recent interview (lipid panels measure fat count). Pearson's 
long, pointed features and slightly hunched frame accentuate 
the height advantage he has over his diminutive research asso- 
ciate/wife. Sandy was so often overlooked during interviews in 
the early days of the Life Extension success that she developed 
a ploy to attract attention— "to make her seem tougher and 
s Durk. 

"Pick a horseshoe," demands the woman who says her ulti- 
mate aim in life is to bring her physiological age down to twenty- 
five years and maintain it "indefinitely." Out of one of the steel 
suitcases lining their hotel room. I withdraw a hefty arc of iron. 
And one second later, wilh nary a grunt to record the moment, 
the little lady has twisted that horseshoe into a shining pretzel. 
"That makes 'em sit up," says Durk. "And Sandy hasn't done 
more than thirty minules of exercise over the past seven years." 

Come on. But that's the beauty of this boldest of life extension 
programs. In this age of running, pumping, and fasting, Durk and 
Sandy offer a painless guide to living longer. "We're gourmets 
and sedentary, type A scientists," offers Durk as something of 
an explanation of their penchant for daily tossing back a blend 
of potent chemicals. "What we'retrying to do is protect ourselves 
from ourselves." The scientific community generally agrees lhat 
Durk and Sandy's research demonstrates a remarkable lack of 
rigor; The couple has failed to conduct controlled studies, and 
the majority of Pearson and Shaw's predecessors in life exten- 
sion experiments of this nature have been laboratory animals. 
Even so, Durk and Sandy have earned qualified praise for help- 
ing to popularize the growing belief among scientists that it is 
possible to intervene in. and even slow, the aging process. 'At 
least they're saying that things can be found to retard aging and 
there's something you can do," says Richard Cutler of the Na- 
tional Institute on Aging, in Baltimore. 

Durk and Sandy hope the proceeds from their current release, 
The Life Extension Weight Loss Guide, will fuel future research 
projects. And they have other plans that will take them outside 
their study center. The two researchers— who claim that ulti- 
mately the only causes of death will be suicide, murder, and ac- 
cident — plan to take up drag racing for fun. And they have landed 
their first movie roles. Scheduled for release this past summer, 
the movie Ratboy features-Durk and Sandy playing themselves, 

"What we like best in life is discovering new things." says Durk. 
Adds Sandy, "Put in there that I'd like to get a bit part as a mad 
scientist someday."— SUSAN ELLIS 

Susan Ellis is the editor of the newsletter Longevity, A Practical Guide 
to the Art and Science ot Staying Young, published by Omni Publica- 
tions International Ltd. in New York City. 



Astronaut Christa Mc- 
Auliffe's dream was to teach 
a science class in orbit. 
Nowearthbound science 
ieachers will have a chance 
to enter the Space Age — 
on the ground— with a new 
training program developed 
by the Talcott Mountain 
Science Center in Avon, 

The program will use a 
communications satellite 
22.300 miles above the 
equator to broadcast lectures 
by experts in various fields 
■and allow participants to talk 
back and torlh across the 
nation and even the world. 

"The center has been 
conducting a program for a 
number of years, " explains 
Talcott technical consultant 
William Dunkerly, "in which 
students hear well-known 
presenters talk on their areas 
of expertise. But we feel 
that we can have a greater 
impact on American educa- 
tion by dealing with teachers, 
who go back to the class- 
room and work with anywhere 

52 OMNI 

I from thirty to one hundred 

I thirty students." The satellite 
broadcasting, he says, 
"came about as a desire to 
reach teachers not only 

j in Connecticut and the sur- 

! rounding states but virtually 
anywhere." Teachers as 
far away as the Arctic Circle 

: will have access to the 
satellite broadcasts, and, 
adds Dunkerly, the science 
center hopes to include 

| American overseas schools 

■ in future programs. 

Entitled "Shoulders of the 
Giants," the course will enlist 
as instructors such lumi- 
naries as former astronaut 
Alan Bean and star-wars 
proponent Robert Jastrow. 
Beginning this fall teachers at 
institutions possessing 
satellite dishes will be able to 
view ihe lecturer on a televi- 
sion screen, then ask ques- 
tions using a standard tele- 
phone hookup. Planned 
lesson topics include break- 
throughs in molecular ge- 
netics and new methods of 
computer storage. 

"One of the lead subjects." 
Dunkerly says, -"is the 'toys 

j in space' experiments that 
I were conducted on the 
shuttle," in which astronauts 
played with such items as 
j a yo-yo and a Slinky to dem- 
! onstrate the effects of zero 
' gravity (see Games, February 
Says Dunkerly, "We don'! 
, know of any other course 
j being offered on the open 
j market that's taught interac- 
tively like this." 

— Nancy Lucas 


It doesn't sound like much 
' fun for the oysters, but a 
I new, sexless oyster, devel- 
| oped by genetic-engineering 

techniques, may be a boon 
, to seafood lovers who want to 
' enjoy the briny bivalves all 
| year round. 

Floyd Bagley. vice presi- 
dent of Hilton Sea Food, 
a Seattle company that 
helped sponsor ihe project, 
explains that oysters nor- 
mally lose their flavor during 

the hot summer months. 
"When it's warm they start to 
develop sperm and eggs, 
and their texture turns all 
mushy, runny, and gooey. 

People don't like the way 
they taste then." 

Stan Allen, a research 
associate in the University of 
Washington's Fisheries 
Department, reasoned that 
to keep oysters plump and 
succulent all year, you'd have 
to keep them from reproduc- 
ing. To that end he and his 
colleagues treated freshly 
ferlilized one-cell oyster 
eggs with cytochalasin, a 
chemical derived from a 
fungus. "Oysters receive one 
set of chromosomes from a 
male and two sets from a 
female, and they normally kick 
off the extra set of female 
chromosomes," Allen ex- 
plains. "But the chemical ex- 
posure caused the oyster 
egg to hold on to the extra set 
of chromosomes." The result- 
ing creature was named a 
triploid. a non reproducing 
mutant oyster. 

The main problem with 
growing these sexless crea- 
tures for commercial sale, 
says Allen, is their high 
mortality rate. "Only about 
fen to fifteen percent of 
the treated eggs live. Buf 
those are still pretty good 
odds when you consider that 
one female oyster can pro- 
duce fifty thousand to one 
hundred thousand eggs. 
Plus, it's not an expensive 
process, even when a lot of 
them die. It-only takes about 
twenty-five dollars' worth 
of chemicals to treat live hun- 
dred million eggs." Never- 
theless, Allen hopes to find 
methods that will create 
triploids without killing so 
many in the process. He's 
currently looking into how 
heat or hydrostatic pressure 
could be used to force 
oyster eggs to hold on to 

(heir extra chromosomes. 

According to Bagley, the 
technology needed to genet- 
ically engineer triploids is 
well enough developed that 
year-round edible oysters 
should be on the market 
soon, In fact, the sexless 
creatures are already growing 
in some Hilton Sea Food 
oyster beds. "I'm convinced 
this is the biggest thing to 
happen to our industry in a 
long time," says Bagley. 

— Sherry Baker 


What will the Japanese 
think of next? Does a human 
telephone sound too far- 
fetched? Japan's Ministry of 
Posts and Telecommunica- 
tions doesn't think so. The 
government agency that 
oversees the phone and 
postal systems for the Japa- 
nese recently announced 
it is looking into human 
telepathy as a new communi- 
cations medium. 

The ministry's specially 
appointed eight-member 
committee, which includes 
Japan's foremost parapsy- 
choiogist as well as bigwigs 
from Japan's aerospace 
and electronics industries, 
has already begun discus- 
sions on the potential uses not 
only for mental telepathy 
but for gravity waves, the as- 
yet-unproven gravity pat- 
terns thought to travel almost 
infinite distances. The com- 
mittee will also be seeking 
uses for neutrinos— subatom- 
ic particles thought to have 
no mass, thus enabling them 
to pass right through the 
earth at the speed of light. 

send incredibly long-distance 
communications. And be- 
cause neutrinos are emitted 
by the reactors aboard 
nuclear submarines, a huge 
neutrino detectdr might 
conceivably be built to track 
underwater movements of 
submarines on the opposite 
side of the world. 

The parapsychologist on 
the ministry's specially ap- 

pointed committee, Soji 
Ootani of Japan's National 
Defense Academy, says, 
"Although scientifically we are 
not at the stage to actually 

use telepathy or these other 
proposed methods, there 
is a good possibility that they 
could be used. So it is a 
good idea to begin thinking 
about them." 

But Alun Anderson, Tokyo 
correspondent for the British 
science journal Nature, 
who has reported on the new 
committee's work, disagrees 

"The ideas they are looking 
into are really farfetched, 
yet they decide to look for 
practical applications first, 
before the basic research is 
done," he says. "It's like 
announcing that you're going 
to investigate whether tarot 
card readers can predict the 
behavior of the Russian 
army." — Eric Mishara 


Astronomers from the 
University of California at Los 
Angeles and at Columbia 
University in New York City 
have used radio telescopes to 
discover two strange new 
structures, origin unknown, 
near the center of the Milky 
Way. They are unlike any 
other objects in our galaxy 
and would seem to indicate 
the presence of a previously 
undetected phenomenon 
at the galactic center. 

The scientists are astron- 
omy professor Mark Morris at 
UCLA and Farhad Yusef- 
Zadeh, a doctoral candidate 
at Columbia. They report: 

• One structure consists of 
three threadlike lines, smooth 
radio transmissions, 

each of which stretches more 
than 100 light-years in length. 
They curve across the north- 
ern center of the Milky Way. 

• The other structure has 

been tentatively identified as 
a jet of extremely hot gas 
that streams out of the galac- 
tic center. If that can be 
confirmed, it offers further 
evidence of a black hole at 
the center of our galaxy. 

Says Professor Morris: 
"These new structures add to 
the growing mosaic of curi- 
ous forms of activity at the 
core of the Milky Way." 

Morris believes that the 
strange threads are the result 

of "interaction of interstellar 
gas and the magnetic field." 
They were discovered during 
a random radio-telescope 
search. "Some signposts 
were missing, which led us to 
take a closer look," he ex- 
plains. But right now there is 
no explanation that can 
identify the threads' compo- 
sition or origin. While they 
may be unique in our galaxy, 
they do have counterparts 
in others, "In our own quiet 
galaxy, however," says Morris, 
"this phenomenon was 

— George Nobbe 




Car engines may soon go 

Already almosl all major 
automakers in the United 
States and abroad have 
bought plastic engines for 

The six-cylinder double- 
overhead-cam, turbocharged 
power plant weighs only 
202 pounds, about 155 
pounds less than fine stan- 
dard metal engine. The 
engine block, cylinder heads, 
piston skirts, connecting 
rods, valve spring retainers, 
tappets, timing gears, piston 
pins, intake valve stems, 
and scraper rings are all 
made of plastic. 

With a lightweight engine a 
car can accelerate faster, 
handle better, move more 
smoothly and produce about 
ten decibels less noise. 
Inventor Matty Holtzberg ol 
Polimotor Research, Inc., 
of Fair Lawn, New Jersey, 

says, "You can also make the 
plastic engine in half the 
time, at about one third the 
cost, through new injection- 
molding manufacturing 
j methods. " 

The Polimotor Lola T-616, 
equipped with a four-cylinder 
| version, ran in several Inter- 
national Motor Sports Asso- 
j elation Camel GT endurance 
j races in 1984 and 1985, 
| once finishing as high as 
third, never worse than sixth. 
The V-6 plastic engine is 
expected to debut in the 1987 
Indianapolis 500. 

Back in the Seventies 
Holtzberg realized that ther- 
moplastics—notably Torlon, 
an engineering resin made 
by Amoco Chemicals Com- 
pany—could figure strongly in 
the design and manufacture 
of internal-comb usf ion en- 
gines. Thermoplastic poly- 
mers are found in ball bear- 
ings, business machines, 
turbine-engine parts, aero- 
space electronic connectors, 

and integrated- circuit proc- 
essing equipment. 

Polimotor plans to turn out 
ten plastic engines this 
for more racing tests, 
Holtzberg predicts the 
igine — or some variation 
ereof — will become com- 
lerctaily available within 
i years. 

'It really is the wave of the 
future," says Ford design 
engineer Robert Natkin. "By 
the year 2000 piastic engines 
will be commonplace." 

—Robert Brody 

_. .„.. .e: About 155 pounds lighter than a 
moplastic engine is also ten decibels quieter 

" The very purpose of 
existence is to reconcile the 
glowing opinion we hold 
of ourselves with the 
appalling things that other 
people think about us. " 

— Quentin Crisp 


Bookworms, or habitual 
readers, are often portrayed 
as dull, inactive homebodies. 
Studies, though, show just 
the opposite, says John 
Dessauer, director of the Uni- 
versity of Scranton's Center 
for Book Research, in Penn- 

In surveys by Yankelovich, 
Skelly & White and other 
firms, says Dessauer, one 
thing was clear: 'Active 
readers were active in many 
other things, such as sports, 
TV watching, theatergoing, 
and game playing. 

"The significant thing is 
how many other activities 
readers engage in," expfains 
Dessauer. "They're not the 
retiring wallflower types 
silting at home with the 
shades drawn, reading." 

In addition to other findings, 
the center's studies revealed 
that habitual book readers 
like arcade video games. 
music, and computers more 
than those who don't read 
as much, 

Dessauer, who heads the 
only book-industry study 
center in the nation, says that 
contrary to popular opinion, 
baby boomers read more 
than their parents do. "They 
have better educations 
and more books available," 
he says. — Allan Maurer 

"Without bigots, eccentrics, 
cranks, and heretics, the 
world would not progress. " 
—Frank Gelett Burgess 

"Already at the origin of the 
species, man was equal 
to what he was destined to 
become. " 

— Jean Rostand 

The platypus is even stranger than previously thought. Besides 
laying eggs, this weird mammal tracks its prey electrically. 


At first glance Ihe duckbill 
platypus looks like a refugee 
from evolution's junk pile. 
Neither tish nor fowl, the platy- 
pus is that most anomalous 
of animals; an air-breathing 
mammal that lives underwater 
and lays eggs. If that weren't 
enough, it now appears 
that the profile ot the platypus 
features yet another startling 
eccentricity: The animal 
can actually use its ducklike 
bill to pick up signals from 
weak electric fields. 

Biologist Henning Scheich 
of the Technical University 
in Darmstadt, West Germany, 
had long suspected that 
"the platypus — in common .. 
with sharks, rays, and some 
kinds of sturgeon — might 
have this electrical sense. 

"They fit the description," 
Scheich explains: "a nightr 
active, water-bound animal 
with weak -eyesight that eats 
live prey," When Scheich 
tested his notion by dropping 
penlight batteries into a 
pool where five platypuses 
were swimming, he found that 
the animals unerringly homed 
in on the batteries as if they 
were prey — preferred them, 
in fact, to the shrimp they 
were offered simultaneously. 

Apparently Ihe platypus's 
sensing mechanism consists 
of a series of tiny, nervelike 
receptors located in the 
animal's bill. As it swims about 
in search of food, it sweeps 
its bill back and forth, using it 
to pick up the tiny electrical 
signals that accompany 
nerve impulses in the bodies 
of its prey— an idiosyncratic 

and uniquely platypusian 
form of biological radar. 

—Bill Lawren 

"Every revolution evaporates 
and leaves behind only 
the slime of a new 
bureaucracy. " 

— Franz Kafka 

"It is a fact that man must 

control science and 
occasionally check the 
inevitable advance of 
technology. " 

— Thomas Huxley 


Found (maybe); the elusive 
particle that may tie the 
universe together. Ever since 
physicists started to formu- 
late the first GUTs — grand 
unification theories that 
attempt to find a common 
ground for the four basic 
brces in ihe universe — they 
have been searching relent- 
for a mysterious sub- 

atomic particle called the 
magnetic monopole, the 
existence of which is neces- 
sary to make all these grand 
theories work. 

Now physicist David Cap- 
lin of Imperial College in 
London has come up with 
what he calls a "candidate 
monopole event." In the 
fail of 1984 Caplin set up a 
detector especially designed 
to register the passage of a 
magnetic monopole: a free- 
floaling magnetic particle 
that, with its brethren, pro- 
duces magnetic current just 
as electrons produce electric 
current. Such a particle 
would bridge the apparent 
gap between electrical and 
magnetic phenomena. 

Because monopoles, if 
they exist at all, are expected 
to be extremely rare— "Maybe 
one would come by every 
ten thousand years," Caplin 
says — the physicist ex- 
pected to find nothing at all. 
Then one day in August 
1985 his detector registered 
an abrupt and dramatic 
jump in magnetic flux — al- 
most exactly what theory 
predicted would have hap- 
pened it a monopole had 
in fact passed through. 

Even so. Caplin remains 
cautious about his claims. His 
detector, he explains, has 
only one channel, and to 
verily the monopoie's exist- 
ence its passage would have 
to be recorded simulta- 
neously by a second channel. 
Huge, multichanneled detec- 
tors are now being set up 
at Stanford, FermiLab, and 
IBM's Yorktown Heights 
center, "if there are mono- 
poles to find," Caplin says, 
"these should find them." 

—Bill Lawren 



A hormonelikf 
that actually triggi 
pain emanating from cuts, 
burns, arthritic joints, interna! 
wounds, and other damaged 
body spots has now been 
identified. And new synthetic 
blockers, drugs tailored to 
block the action of the pain 
substance bradykinin, are 
currently being developed 
human use. 

"Bradykinin is the most 
potent pain-producing sub- 
stance known to man," 
n eu roph ar macolo g i s t Solo- 
on Snyder of Johns Hopkins 
University in Baltimore, 
says. "We're talking about a 
new generation of painkilling 
drugs acting at the initial 
site where the pain begins." 
Bradykinin normally travels 
in the bloodstream, attached 
to a so-called precursor 
molecule. But Snyder and his 
team of researchers found 
that when body tissue is 
injured, the bradykinin breaks 
from the precursor and 
attaches to nerve receptors 
at the site of the injury, trig- 
gering pain- 
But the synthetic blockers, 
created by biochemist John 
Stewart of the University 
of Colorado in Denver, can 
also attach to the nerve 
receptors, thereby stopping 
the bradykinin from doing 
so and thus preventing pain. 

"The blocker binds very 
tightly to the receptor but 
doesn't go on and do the next 
important step, which is to 
produce pain," Stewart 
explains. "It is like a key that 
won't turn -but just sits in 
the lock so another key can't 
get in," Right now Nova 
Pharmaceutical Corporation 

56 OMNI 

of Baltimore is in the early 
stages of refining Stewart's 
blockers. A prescription 
pain-prevention cream for 
cuts, burns, and arthritis. 
Nova vice president Hans 
Mueller says, could be on the 
market in four years, 

—Eric Mishara 


How do you fix a broken 
motor in the radioactive 
bowels of a nuclear-fuel- 
reprocessing plant? Dispose 
of hot nuclear waste or toxic 
chemicals? Repair a satellite 
in space? 

From the Oak Ridge Na- 
tional Laboratory (ORNL) in 
Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 
comes a brand-new robotic 
creature that can do all 
these things, Called the Ad- 
(ASM), it is basically a pair of 
dexterous mechanical 
arms — complete with shoul- 
ders., elbows, wrists, and 
grippers— linked electroni- 
cally to a human operator in a 
distant control room. The 
operator experiences "feel," 
or force reflection, through 
electronic feedback while 

closed-circuit TV cameras 
and microphones function as 
the eyes and ears. The 
result is the latest in telepres- 
ence, an electronic slave 
that can venture into places 
too hazardous for man 

Since the late Forties there 
have been mechanical 
devices called master/slave 
manipulators to handle 
radioactive materials; but 
these, like all stationary in- 
dustrial robots, are limited to 
a fixed position and can 
handle only specific, repeti- 
tive tasks. The ASM, in 
contrast, can move around 
over a large area at the 
bidding of its distant human 
masters. "It's very dexterous, 
very mobile," says Joseph 
N. Herndon of ORNL's Fuel 
Recycle Division. 'And it is 

designed modularly so that 
another manipulator can 
fix it if it breaks down on the 
job." This combination of 
traits makes the ASM unique 
in all the world, according 
to Herndon. 

Dirty jobs like nuclear-fuel 
reprocessing (wherein us- 
able material forthe .defense 
industry is extracted from 
spent nuclear fuel) and the 
disposal of nuclear waste are 
right up the ASM's alley, 
Herndon notes. And one day 
a cousin of the ASM will 
very likely be working for 
NASA. too. — Judith Hooper 

"Science is the meeting 
place of two kinds of poetry: 
the poetry of thought and 
the poetry of action. " 
— George Agostinho da Silva 

The ASM at wort.- A pair oi mechanical arms — complete with 
shoulders, elbows, wrists, and grippers— linked to a human being. 


For Dr. Ronald Bergman 
exception is not simply 
the rule but a cause. After 
two decades of explaining to 
medical students why parts 
of their cadavers did not 
match anatomy texts, Berg- 
man compiled the Catalog 
of Human Variations, a com- 
pendium of the 10,000 regu- 

larly occurring human ana- 
tomical variations. 

One person in 6 million, for 
example has situs inversus, 
in which the organs are 
turned around. More common 
are extra fingers and three 
bones in the thumb. And you 
can have four, six, or eight 
nipples or breasts. 

Women with double va- 
ginas might seek out men 
with an extra penis. Extra ribs 
occur rarely, whereas third 
kidneys are more common, 
as are accessory lung lobes, 
spleens, and pancreases. 
Missing can be gallbladders, 
irises, bones, and ligaments. 

Textbooks omit such 
phenomena for space rea- 
sons, though physicians 
commonly encounter them in 
treatment. So with fellow 

anatomists Dr. Sue Ann 
Thompson and Dr. Adel Afifi, 
Bergman scoured 223 medi- 
cal journals in four languages 
to compile all variations 
and their frequency. Doctors 
have sometimes failed to 
find certain structures, mis- 
taken one for another, and 
caused damage because 
they were uninformed or 
misinformed about natural 

Muscles, for instance, can 
be split in unusual ways or 
be absent altogether. Blood 
vessels can have dozens 
of exotic patterns, and nerves 
also wander. 

Bergman maintains that 
there is a finite number 
of variables for any structure. 
With his second edition 
just out, he claims to have 
cataloged 95 percent of 
all possibilities. The book is 
1,000 pages long. 

—William Mueller 

Judges and juries who 
depend on the testimony of 
police officers to arrive at 
a verdict are in for a sad 
surprise. A recent study by a 
British psychologist implies 
that cops' memories for 
facts elicited in interrogation 
are woefully bad. 

Noel Clark of the University 
of Kent at Canterbury wrote 
up a fictitious interrogation by 
two police officers of a 
woman who claimed to have 
been raped. He showed 
the interrogation to 67 police 
officers. Then, only five 
minutes later, he asked them 
to imagine themselves in 
court, recalling the content of 
the interrogation for a judge. 

The results varied accord- 

ing to the technique used to 
recall the story. Those who 
did it script style ("He said; 
then she said") remembered 
only 21.4 percent of the con- 
tent accurately and intro- 
duced a large number of er- 
roneous facts. Those who 
recalled the interrogation as 
a narrative ("This happened; 
then that happened") intro- 
duced fewer plausible inven- 

tions but had a miserably low 
accuracy rating of 8.4 per- 

The only consolation in all 
this is that the cops did no 
worse than a group of stu- 
dents that Clark used as 
a control. In the meantime, 
Clark says, concerned con- 

I stables are "streaming down 
to see me. They know it's a 

I problem," — Bill Lawren 


A telling photo phenomenon: When people in wheelchairs take 
pictures of others, the subjects seldom look at Ihe photographer 


Photographs provide a 
good picture of the people 
who take them as well as 
the subjects, says a Univer- 
sity of Florida psychology 

"Photography is like holding 
up a mufti faceted mirror 
thai reveals things about you 
that you never realized," 
says Robert Ziller, who, for 
nearly a decade, has been 
conducting a worldwide 
study of what photography 
suggests about the photog- 

58 OMNI 

| raphers. Assisted by his 
; students, Ziller found; 
i • When people in wheelchairs 
! take pictures of others, the 
| subjects seldom look at 
i the photographer, "Our results 
were dramatic," Ziller says. 
"Everyone in the pictures 
looked away. That helps us 
understand both Ihe images 
people in wheelchairs have 
of others and how others 
treat (hem." 

• Both rich and poor Mexican 
boys, when asked to supply 
photos depicting who and 
what they were, usually came 

its with pictures of them- 

taken by others. 
:ican girls, however, rarely 
lught back photos of 
themselves. "South American 
males seem to have a lot 
more self-esteem than fe- 
males do," Ziller notes. 

• Shy college students take 
photos of school activities or 
buildings rather than people 
or themselves. Those not 
so shy take lots of pictures of 
Others and ask others to 
photograph them. "It's as if 
shy people don't like others to 
control their environment, 
while a less shy person's time 
is usurped by others," Ziller 
speculates. "It's worth a 
deeper look." 

• When college students at 
the University of Florida 
and in Poland were asked to 
shoot photographs of what 
the good life meant to them, 
Poles took pictures of 
churches, families, and 
schools. Americans shot per- 
sonal belongings, them- 
selves, and their friends hav- 
ing a good time. "It was a 
night-and-day difference, " 
Ziller says. 'Americans took 
much more personal, casual 

"Photographs are really 
an ideal nonverbal way 
ol understanding others bet- 
ter," asserts Ziller, who is 
continuing his research, "They 
also help us see ourselves 
better. They're really like 
a dream ... a frozen 
dream." — Allan Maurer 


Although sharks are usually 
perceived as dim-witted 
eating machines, trainers at 
Ihe Naval Ocean Systems 
Center in San Diego have 

I taught nurse sharks to retrieve 

, hoops, nuzzle targets, and 
perform other common 

i dolphinlike tasks. 

"We wanted to see what 
we could get out of them," 
explains the center's Scott 
Johnson. Sharks have one 
advantage over dolphins: 
They don't have to come up 
for air "We thought they 
might be helpful in finding 
things on the ocean bottom," 
says Johnson. 

Starting with foot-long 
nurse sharks that grew to 
Ihree feet long, the trainers 
used the same techniques 
that worked with dolphins, 
teaching them to nudge 
a trainer's fist and to respond 
to buzzers and other electri- 
cal stimulation. They even 
fed the fish by hand. "Nurse 
sharks don't have sharp 

| biting teeth." Johnson says. 
"Their teeth crush. Of course, 
you don't stick your finger 
in their mouths." 

He notes that "those of us 
who have been around 
sharks weren't too surprised 
at what they could do. Most 
people think they're just 
swimming mouths. Actually, 
they're brighter than many 
big, dumb fish and a lot 
of animals." 

Johnson and his co-work- 
ers did discover that sharks 
tend to rebel against the 
training. "You could only do 
so much with them before 
they would get upset and 
bang at the gate to get back 
to their habitat. We'd just 
use them up." 

And no, Johnson adds, 
there was never any plan to 
build a kamikaze shark. 
"If we could do that," he 
quips, "I'd move fartherfrom 
the ocean." — Allan Maurer 

In the twenty-first century 

antiaging substances will revitalize our skin, 

our organs—and our genes 


During Prohibition Mama 
and her friends used to 
ride out into the slill-rural 
area surrounding Atlanta 
to buy bootleg whiskey (torn 
Pop Adams. In the Southern 
mode they would sit on the 
porch drinking buttermilk 
while Pop's daddy, who was 
one hundred one. tossed a 
shovel across his shoulder 
and nipped down Ihrough the 
piny woods to disinter some 
fruil jars of white lightning and 
outwit the Feds. Mama said 
the liquor was so raw itd take 
the enamel ofl your teeth. But 
it must have been doing 
something right because the 
old men swore by it "We have 
a little toddy now and then 
through the day. yessiree," 
Pops daddy said, a Home Run 
cigarette dangling from his 
mouth. "Good corn likker's the ■ 
secret to long life; wouldn't 
miss a day." 

Pop himself had no pa- 
tience for Mama's shudder as 
she gagged down the white- 
corn squeezings and longed 
for something bottled in bond. 
"That government whiskey? 
Why, taint nothing but a little. 

water and a double handful of 
cne~'icals that'll kill ya surer'n 
hell." Pop's professional bias 
notwithstanding, it's likely that 
some double handlul of 
chemicals— produced inter- 
nally or consumed in the 
course of everyday life — en- 
abled ;he Adams men to sur- 
vive in exceptional health and 
vigor to great old age. 

The search for this double 
handful of chemicals — a 
magic potion to stave off death 
and postpone the ravages of 
age— is as old as man The 
myth of Shangri-la, for exam- 
ple, comes from the Greek tale 
of the Hyperboreans, who— 
after living 1,000 years — sim- 
ply plunged into the sea. The 
promise of gold wasn't the 
Spaniards' only quest in the 
New World: They genuinely 
thought they would find the 
Fountain of Youth on the 
shores of Florida. Had the 
Span arcs recognized Aztec 
and Inca ritual snake paint- 
ings as symbols of rebirth, 
though, it would probably 
have tipped them off: The In- 
dians were looking, too. 

But now, after millennia of 



frustration, youth elixirs may be at hand. 
What's more, the dozen or so substances 
on the horizon stem not from the commer- 
cial aspirations of a health-food chain or 
the twisted imaginings of a crank but from 
a new and profound understanding of how 
we age. 

To scientists in the forefront of longevity 
research, aging is the tragic side effect of 
life. The hormones released during pu- 
berty and as a result ol stress slowly erode 
Ihe body's organs. The food we eat and 
the air we breathe generate highly reaclive 
free radicals, which make subtle but deadly 
changes in DNA. And environmental haz- 
ards, from ordinary sunlight to industrial 
toxins, infiltrate the cells, helping to grind 
their engines to a halt. Some scientists have 
" even found compelling evidence for an 
aging clock in the brain. As that clock winds 
down, they say, it alters the levels of hor- 
mones and other biological substances, 
slowly lowering the effectiveness of the 
heart, lungs, immune system, and just 
about everything else that keeps the body 
healthy and strong. 

Increased comprehension of the prob- 
lems, however, may soon yield what 
amounts to an aging cure. Within the next 
decade we might use hormones to bolster 
our immune systems, viruslike vaccines to 
slow the death of cells, and uric acid lo 
prevent the destruction of our genes. Such 
supplements could help us maintain our 
health and vigor throughout much of our 
current maximum life span of 115 years. 
What's more, in the twenty-first century 
these potions will be dwarfed by a new, 
more potent generation of "longevity pills." 
Enzyme drinks will endow us with the abil- 
ity to repair each new nick in our armor of 
DNA, and synthetic neurohormones will lit- 
erally reset the aging clock in our brains. 
Instead of simply keeping us healthier 
longer, these new drugs will push the out- 
side of the aging envelope, eventually in- 
creasing our life span by dozens of years. 
The first longevity drugs to reach the 
market could be the thymosins, a family of 
hormones produced by the thymus, the 
master gland of the immune system. "The 
immune system is the bubble that protects 
us from a dangerous, hostile environment," 
says biochemist Allan Goldstein, chairman 
of the biochemistry department at George 
Washington University. 'And Ihe immune 
systems of superheavy people are un- 
usually effective. The thymosins play a key 
role for these people. Our goal is to learn 
how. Then we'll put the thymosins into stay- 
healthy pills, to be taken once a day like 
vitamin supplements. The pill could add 
perhaps a dozen years to the maximum 
human life span of one hundred fifteen. But 
even if it doesn't, it should help us live out 
in health the years to which we are genet- 
ically entitled." 

Twenty-five years ago no one even knew 
what the thymus gland was. Indeed, be- 
cause the thymus is the first gland in the- 
body to atrophy— it weighs 200 to 250 
grams at birth, begins to shrink at puberty, 

62 OMNI 

and has shriveled to a three-gram, griz- 
zled clump of cells by the sixth decade of 
life — scienlists always believed it had no 
function at all. But in 1961 researchers from 
the University of Minnesota removed the 
small, pink organ from a group of newborn 
mice. Much lo their surprise the mice failed 
to grow and then died of overwhelming in- 
fection. The suggestion: that the thymus 
gland was crucial to the immune system 
and, quite apart from that, to the growth of 
the whole organism. 

Enter Goldstein, a brilliant young post- 
doctoral student at Albert Einstein College 
of Medicine in New York. The year was 
1964, and Goldstein was lucky enough to 
be working under the late biochemist 
Abraham White. When asked by White to 
conduct a needle-in-a-haystack search for 
a thymus hormone, Goldstein agreed. 

The thymus and its hormones, Goldstein 
eventually learned, control production of 
the white blood cells known as T cells, the 
brain and brawn of the immune system. He 

^Enzyme drinks 

will endow us with the ability 

to repair each 

-new nick in our armor of DNA. 

And synthetic 

neurohormones will literally 

reset the 
aging clock in our brains3 

found that the thymosins work iheir magic 
by aiding in the activation of three types of 
T cells: killer cells, which, attack foreign or- 
ganisms and cancer cells directly; helper 
cells, which aid in the production of anti- 
bodies; and suppressor cells, which pre- 
vent the immune system from attacking 
one's own tissue. "It was obvious," Gold- 
stein says, that "any imbalance in the num- 
bers of various T cells could lead to poor 
health. The further implication: that we 
could increase a person's immunological 
response by manipulating the amount of 
thymosins in the blood." 

Finally, in the early Seventies. Goldstein 
put his theories to the test with a five-year- 
old girl named Heather, who was suffering 
from a condition known as thymic hypo- 
plasia. "Her body didn't make enough T 
cells," Goldstein explains. "She should have 
weighed sixty to seventy pounds, but she 
weighed only twenty-six pounds. She had 
all sorts of severe infections. In truth, her 
condition was terminal. But five days after 
we started her on thymosin, her T cells were 
multiplying, her infections had decreased, 
and she was gaining weight," 

Today, Heather is a healthy junior high 

school cheerleader living a normal life. "I 
have a beautiful picture of Heather on my 
wall," Goldstein says. 'And I think that what 
was true for Heather will be true for the great 
majority of the aged. Right now the shriv- 
eled thymus glands of the elderly produce 
only small amounts of T cells. Instead of 
suffering from the acute disease that 
Heather had, they go into gradual decline. 
But for them and for Heather, the solulion 
will be the same. If we can give them 
enough thymosin to keep the T cell level 
high, we should be able to enhance im- 
munity ihroughout old age." 

Rejuvenating the immune system with 
thymosins would add perhaps a dozen 
years to life by fighting off cancer, arthritis, 
pneumonia, and many other diseases to 
which the aged are prey. But Goldstein's 
most recent work, suggesting that the thy- 
mosins regulate an aging clock in the brain, 
should revolutionize the longevity field. 

According to Goldstein, the idea that the 
thymus regulated more than the immune 
system came to him in the mid-Seventies 
as a result of a series of experiments done 
by endocrinologists like Sandra Michaels 
at the State University of New York at 

Michaels found that removing the thy- 
mus gland in female mice not only de- 
creased resistance to infection — a sign of 
impaired immunity — but also distorted the 
ovaries and altered the vaginal opening. 
What's more, when Michaels gave the mice 
thymosin supplements, the conditions were 
corrected. Strange as it seemed, the thy- 
mosins — in addition to the normal array of 
sex hormones— were affecting sexual de- 
velopment, usually under the control of two 
glands at Ihe base of the brain: the hypo- 
thalamus and the pituitary. 

Goldstein decided to study the relation- 
ship between sexual development and the 
thymosins, too. Under normal circum- 
stances, he knew, the hypothalamus se- 
cretes hormones that trigger a second pla- 
toon of substances in the pituitary — the sex 
hormones— that take us through puberty 
and ultimately make us mature. 

Goldstein and Robert Rebar, now at 
Northwestern University Medical School, 
found that when they removed the hypo- 
thalamus and pituitary from mice and kept 
them in solution, the glands still released 
the full cascade of hormones — as long as 
thymosin was added to the solution as well. 
Thymosin, it seemed, could trigger the re- 
lease of hormones in the brain. 

In subsequent experiments Goldstein 
learned that thymosins were directly linked 
to other brain systems as well: They could 
stimulate the brain's production of adreno- 
corticotrophic hormone (ACTH), normally 
associated with fight-and-flight reactions; 
beta endorphin, the "feel-good" chemical; 
and prolactin, a growth hormone. Stimu- 
lation of ACTH, for instance, caused the 
adrenal gland to pump out the hormones 
of stress. Even more interesting, he found, 
the stress hormones traveled full circle 
back to the thymus gland. They shrank the 

I^^rf* '■ lv '-^Mgfcl 

gland, turning praduciion of thymosins — 
and thus release of stress hormones — 

According to Goldstein, these elaborate 
feedback loops between the thymus and 
the brain are the key to aging itself, 'As we 
grow older," he says, "there are changes 
in -brain chemistry. These changes alter 
hormone levels, causing deterioration 
throughout the body. And our studies place 
the thymosins at the center of this process. 
It's even possible that the whole range of 
brain hormones tails off from optimum lev- 
els as soon as the thymus begins to shrink, 
before the onset of puberty. The sugges- 
tion is that it's the deterioration of the thy- 
mus that leads to deterioration of the 
brain — and ultimately of the body itself. By 
adding the thymosins back, much of that 
decay should be set in reverse." 

Goldstein still recalls that when he first 
developed an interest in the field of aging, 
his mentor, Abraham White, said, 'Allan, 
whateveryou do, don't pursue it until you're 
at least forty-five because it's sure to ruin 
your reputation. People will think you're a 
crackpot." Now forty-eight, with the dis- ■ 
covery of the thymosins behind him and 
pictures of powerful political friends on his 
office wall, Goldstein can afford to dream: 
We know for sure that thymosins prime the 
levels of brain hormones involved in repro- 
duction, growth, and development, he 
says. Thus we should be able to use them 

64 OMNI 

to maintain a whole complement of char- 
acteristics associated with youth: fertility, 
razor-sharp cognitive skills, facile memo- 
ries, fast reflexes, potent wound-healing 
abilities, and even that most intangible of 
traits, a youthful zest for life. Because these 
restorative hormones also bathe our skin, 
muscles, and bones, these body parts 
should retain their youthful structure and 
appearance as well. 

"In five to ten years even healthy people 
will be taking the thymosins on a daily ba- 
sis," Goldstein declares. "Those supple- 
ments should help to push the average 
person's vigorous years upward of eighty 
or ninety simply by boosting the immune 
system. Because we'll also increase the 
level of vital brain hormones, the impact 
will probably be greater still." 

While Goldstein wants to reset the aging 
clock in the brain with thymosins, other 
substances may also prove to be potent 
antiaging agents. As it turns out, it might 
be possible to tap into the feedback loop 
of aging at any point along the way, And 
one of the most promising youth elixirs to 
emerge from the brain-thymus feedback 
loop has the jawbreaking name of dehy- 
droepiandrosterone, or DHEA. One of the 
most common steroid substances se- 
creted by the adrenal gland, DHEA has re- 
cently been shown to protect the thymus 
gland, increasing the number of T cells 
available to fight off infection and disease. 

The first chapter of the DHEA story, 
though, started more than a decade ago. 
when Temple University cancer re- 
searcher Arthur Schwartz stumbled upon 
a study of 5,000 women on the British is- 
land of Guernsey. The study found that 
those women who eventually developed 
breast cancer had abnormally low levels 
of DHEA. It seemed to Schwartz that if low 
levels of DHEA were associated with the 
presence of cancer, high levels might keep 
cancer away. 

Schwartz went on to add DHEA and 
powerful carcinogens to animal cells in 
culture. The carcinogens alone would have 
resulted in high rates of mutation and cell 
death. But with the addition of DHEA, the 
culture continued to grow in perfect health. 

To try to understand these results 
Schwartz went back to the literature for 
clues. And two things stood out. First of all, 
the amount of DHEA in the body was high- 
est at age twenty-five or thirty. From that 
point on it decreased until, at age seventy, 
it was at about 5 percent of its peak. 

Even more interesting, DHEA altered 
metabolism. Excess glucose, Schwartz 
explains, is normally stored in the body in 
the formof fat. But when DHEA was added, 
the fat pathway was blocked. The glucose 
instead traveled down the only other met- 
abolic pathway available — the energy- 
yielding pathway, where it was converted 
to the body's ultimate form of fuel, ATP. 

Significant weight loss resulted. 

Studies had long shown that low-calorie 
diets prevented some forms of cancer. Now 
it seemed as if a mysterious cancer pre- 
ventive, DHEA, acted just like a low-calorie 
diet, promoting weight loss. Perhaps DHEA 
and low-calorie diets worked in much the 
same way, 

If so, Schwartz knew there was a tanta- 
lizing tie-in with aging. Thus far, the only 
proven means of extending life had been 
fasting: Anecdotal evidence came from the 
Himalayan Yogis, known for their long lives 
and subsistence diets. And experimental 
evidence came from Cornell University nu- 
tritionist Clive McCay, who in 1935 doubled 
the average life span of rats by limiting their 
food intake. Not only did McCay and other 
researchers eventually use the technique 
to stretch the average life span in a large 
number of mammalian species, the re- 
searchers also found they could increase 
what's known as maximum life span— the 
age reached by the oldest survivor of a 
population. The implication: Something 
basic to the very mechanism of aging had 
been changed. 

Schwartz set out to see if that mecha- 
nism, whatever it was, could be affected 
by DHEA as well. And after eight months 
he achieved remarkable results, Un- 
treated mice "were coming down with can- 
cer right and left," while those injected with 
DHEA had no tumors at all. But the ab- 
sence or presence of cancer was just the 

beginning: The untreated mice seemed 
old. They couldn't move as quickly, and their 
coats were coarse and gray. The DHEA 
mice ran around like pups — and their coats 
were sleek and black. Says Schwartz, 
"Without a doubt they were aging at a 
slower rate." 

Today Schwartz is working with a safer, 
synthetic analogue of DHEA that he says 
is ten times more potent He still hasn't re- 
ceived Food and Drug Administration ap- 
proval to test the analogue on humans, but 
he expects to receive the go-ahead in a 
couple of years. And when he does, he 
hopes he might see some of the same life 
extension effects in people that calorie re- 
striction has in the mice. If animal results 
can be carried over to humans — a distinct 
possibility— then the DHEA analogue might 
extend our life spans by as much as 50 
percent. In other words, when treated with 
the supplements a sixty-year-old would, re- 
semble in every respecl the forty-year-old 
of today. At age one hundred the treated 
individual would resemble a healthy per- 
son at sixty-five. 

"The goal right now," Schwartz adds, "is 
to understand the mechanism by which 
DHEA seems to promote weight loss and 
longevity. Once we understand what's 
happening during calorie restriction, which 
seems to be the same thing that's happen- 
ing when DHEA is consumed, we might 
develop a host of DHEA-like substances 
that can help us lengthen life — without re- 

"We're going bi-pedal tomorrow. Pass it on, " 

ducing a person's weight." 

Many have taken Schwartz's goal to 
heart. This past summer, when longevity 
researchers attended the prestigious Gor- 
don Conference in the tiny college town of 
Plymouth, New Hampshire, the big news 
was that the diet-restriction mechanism — 
and the body chemicals that drive it — were 
on the verge of being found. 

Gathered at the foothills of White Moun- 
tain, in the solemn lecture halls of the Plym- 
outh State College, the world's top longev- 
ity researchers were unprepared for the 
weight of evidence that would mount. First 
German gerontologist Klaus Beyruther re- 
viewed the life cycle of a cell. Ever since 
Leonard Hayflick published his classic pa- 
per in 1961 it has been known that human 
cells are mortal: They divide some 60 times 
over a period of years. Then they suddenly 
stop. Beyruther_explained that the amount 
of time between each division cycle could 
be increased or decreased, depending on 
the nutrients present in the petri dish. The 
cells could divide at least 60 times in as 
little as a year; but it they were virtually 
starved, the 60 divisions would take three 
times as long. If diet-restricted mice 
stretched out their life spans because they 
had less food, perhaps diet-restricted cells 
did the same. 

Also on the agenda was physiologist 
Edward Masoro of the University of Texas 
at San Antonio. When Masoro restricted the 
calorie intake of laboratory rats., he ex- 
tended life spans by 50 percent. 

Recently, Masoro reported, he had come 
to suspect that the increase in life span 
might be due not to a decrease in calories 
per se but rather to a decrease in a spe- 
cific component of the diet. To test that no- 
tion he restricted elements of the everyday 
diet, one by one. But it was to no avail. He 
now believes that diet restriction itself 
seems to trigger the release of a neuro- 
transmitter or hormone, and this, in turn, is 
what extends life. "I'm now preparing ex- 
periments with two guiding principles: What 
kind of hormonal change might cause life 
extension? And how can hormonal re- 
sponse be modified by calorie restriction? 
Once we find the answers to these ques- 
tions, we may be able to home in on the 
specific biochemical mechanism. Then, 
and this is a very real possibility, we'll be 
able to intervene in that mechanism, ac- 
tually extending life." 

The mechanism suggested by Masoro. 
it turns out, may have been found in what 
amounted to the most explosive life exten- 
sion news in years. Molecular biologists 
James R. Smith of Baylor Medical College 
in Houston and Charles K. Lumpkin of the 
Veterans Administration Medical Center in 
Little Rock, Arkansas, and their colleagues 
said they were zeroing in on a senescence 
protein that inhibits DMA synthesis in skin 
cells, literally shutting down the cell. 

As Lumpkin, a specialist on aging tells 
it, he began to suspect the existence of 
such a protein when he learned that old 
cells, infected with certain viruses, seemed 


) long and obsessively on 
painting, the story goes, that the onl^ 


6Skin substitutes might be made 

by mixing artificial skin with ceiis stored in a tissue bank 

when the patient was young3 

n their llesh-and-blood bodies Ihe 
way. The forty- six-year- old American I met 
in Rio while I was having some alterations 
myself was undergoing her fifteenth sur- 
gical procedure. One short year later she 
asked if I knew a good surgeon in the USA 
because she wanted her bottom redone 
for the third time and her eyes for Ihe fourth. 

New to the De Kooning syndrome, I was 
just beginning to find more room lor im- 
provement on myself when I ran into Gore 
Vidal and Paul Newman, and Gore said, 
"You're looking good, but why'd you stop 
at Ihe neck?" It I hadn't been nursing my 
daughter Gaby. I told him, I would have lain 
down right there on the slab like every- 
body else in Rio and had a total overhaul. 

"My philosophy," Paul volunteered, look- 
ing better than he ever did at thirty, "is to 
do everything you can do to yourself until 
you can't do any more. Then check out." 

After researching this article. I have news 
for Paul. He may not have to slam that racer 
into a cement retaining wall when osteo- 
porosis takes over. Thanks to a blurring of 
the lines separating biochemistry, physics, 
engineering, medicine, and surgery, eter- 
nal youth may be around the corner. 

I begin at the engineering school oi MIT, 

Previous page: laser eyelid cosmetic surgery 
by Sachs. This oagf.-, iaockw;:-.^ from lower let!): 
election micrograph cj young skin; electron 
micrograph ot old, degenerating skin; Yan- 
nas-Burke artificial skin: Sac/. 1 . 1 ;'* tissue day 
70 OMNI 

where loannis Yannas, the inventor of arti- 
ficial skin, has just told me he's also regen- 
erated the sciatic nerve of a rat by sever- 
ing it, removing a two -thirds -inch piece, and 
fitting a polymer-filled tube into the gap. 
But the intense, darling-eyed scientist has 
also nearly shown me to the door of his 
clutter-filled rooms at the university be- 
cause of the following exchange: "They 
don't know you in Ihe news office." 

"That's because I'm not a medical writer. 
I'm an. actress, and when I write, I usually 
write kind of quirky things." 

"I am not quirky. My work is not quirky," 
he says, in the formal, accented English of 
the' normative speaker. 

But the public relations man who told me 
Yannas has "already been burned by the 
'National Enquirer" convinces him that I'm 
on a nonquirky mission, so he consents to 
give me 20 minutes of his time. 

"We've discovered r; s oc:-.:;ible," he says, 
"to take a fresh wound before it has had 
the chance lo grow scar tissue and, by fill- 
ing in the wound with artificial skin, to guide 
it in the direction of regrowing the tissue 
lhat was there. The artiticial skin biode- 
grades as new cells grow into it." 

"What about lest-tube skin — cultured 
skin — the kind Nicholas O'Connor, the 
plastic surgeon right here in Boston, put 
on those two famous little brothers who 
were burned over eighty percent of their 
bodies? Why -s artifcal skin belter?" I ask, 
referring to Ihe skir-cicinq procedure de- 
veloped by Howard Green of Harvard 
Medical School and implemented in the 
brothers' case by O'Connor and Dr. Greg- 
ory Gallico, another great plastic surgeon 
from Boston. They took two centimeters of 
skin from the boys' armpits and saved the 
brothers' lives by reproducing enough of it 
to cover their entire bodies. 

"Everybody talks about those two boys," 
Yannas complains, "but there are more than 
one hundred and twenty patients walking 
around right now on whom we put our ar- 
tificial skin." 

The artificial skin, as it biodegrades, 
stimulates the regeneration oi the dermis 
(the dermis lies under the epidermis). The 
artificial skin is actually an arrangement of 
collagen fibers, and it's that arrangement, 
Yannas says, that makes the difference 
between scar tissue and the new skin when 
it grows in. The Yannas-Burke skin (Dr. 


■ want to tell you 
about the end of war, the degeneration of mankind, and the 

death of the messiah — an epic 

story, deserving thousands of pages and a whole shelf of 

volumes, but you— if there are any 

of "you" later on to read this — will have to settle for the freeze- 

dried version. The direct 

injection works very fast. I figure I've got somewhere 


between forty-five minutes and two hours, 
depending on my blood type. I think it's A, 
which should give me a little more time, but 
I'll be goddamned if I can remember for 
sure. If it turns out to be 0, you could be in 
for a lot of blank pages, my hypothetical 
friend. I think maybe I better assume the 
worsf and go as fast as I can. I'm using the 
electric typewriter — Bobby's word pro- 
cessor is faster but ihe genny's cycle is too 
irregular to be trusted, 'even with the volt- 
age regulator. I've only got one shot at this; 
I can't risk ge:ing mcs'. of the way home 
and then seeing the whole thing go to data 
heaven because of an ohm drop. 

My name is Howard Fornoy. 1 was a free- 
lance writer. My brother. Robori Fornoy, was 
the messiah. I killed him by shooting him 
up with his own discovery four hours ago. 
He called it The Calmative. A Real Big Mis- 
take might have been a better name, but 
what's done is done and can't be undone, 
as the Irish have been saying for centuries 
. . . which proves what assholes they are. 

Shit, I can't afford Ihese digressions. 

After Bobby ci od I covered him with a 
quilt, sat at ihe window of this cabin just 
north of North Conway, New Hampshire, 
for some three hours, looking out at the big 
nothing. Used to be you could see the or- 
ange glow of the high-intensity arc-so- 
diums from town, but no more. Now there's 
just the White Mountains, looking like dark 
pieces of crepe paper cut out by a child. 
and the pointless stars. 

I turned on the radio, dialed through four 
bands, found one crazy guy, and shut it 
off, I sat there thinking of ways to tell this 
story. My mind kepi s icing away toward all 
that nothing. Finally I realized I needed to 
get myself off the dime and shoot myself 
up. Shit, I never could work without a 
deadline. Well, I got one now. 

Our parents had. no reason to expect 

anything other than what they got: bright 
children. Dad was a history major who had 
become a full professor at Hofstra at thirty. 
Ten years later he was one of six vice ad- 
ministrators of the National Archives in 
Washington, DC. and in line lor the top spot. 
Good shit, too. Had a whole Chuck Berry 
collection, my dad. He filed by day and 
rocked by night. Mom graduated cum 
laude from Drew. Business administration. 
Got a Phi Beta Kappa key she sometimes 
wore on this funky fedora she had. She be- 
came a successful CPA in DC, met my dad. 
married him. and took in her shingle when 
she became pregnant with yours truly. I 
came along in 1980. By '84 she was doing 
taxes for some ol my dad's associates as 
a "hobby." By the time Bobby was born in 
1987, she was hand' ng taxes.- investment 
portfolios, and estate pann'ng for a dozen ■ 
powerful men. I could name them, but-who 
gives a fuck? They're either dead or dri- 
veling idiots by now. 

I think she probably made more out of 
her "hobby" each year than my dad made 
at his job, but that never mattered— they ' 
were happy with what they were' to them- 

74 OMNI 

selves and to each other. I saw them 
squabble lots of times, but I never saw them 
fight. When I was growing up. the only dif- 
ference 1 saw between my mom and my 
playmates' moms was that their moms used 
to read or iron or sew or talk on the phone 
while the soaps played on the tube, and, 
my mom used to run a pocket calculator 
and write down numbers on big green 
sheets ot paper while the soaps played. 

I was no disappointment to a couple of 
people with Mensa cards in their wallets. I 
maintained A and B averages through my 
public-school career (the idea that either I 
or my brother might go to a private school 
was never even discussed, so far as I 
know], I also wrote well early, with no effort 
at all. I sold my first magazine piece when 
I was twenty — it was on how the Continen- 
tal Army wintered at Valley Forge. I sold it 
to an airline magazine for four hundred fifty 
dollars. My dad, whom I loved and do love 
deeply, asked me if he could buy that check 
from me. He gave me his own personal 

•/ went 
running after him. Visions 

of his body 

- tumbling off that stupid 

. ' saddie and 

impaling itself on a tree 

stood out with 

hideous clarity in my mindJ 

check and had ihe check from the airline 
magazine framed and hung over his desk. 
Sweet guy. Of course he and my mother 
both died raving and pissing in their 
pants — like most of .the human race — late 
last year, but I never stopped loving either 
of them. 

I was the sort of child they had every 
reason to expect: a good boy who grew 
up in an atmosphere of love and confi- 
dence, a bright boy who tound a consid- 
erable talent and put it to work. 

Bobby was different. Bobby wasn't jus! 
bright, he was a bona fide genius. 

I potty trained two years earlier than Bob; 
that was the only thing in which I ever beat 
him. But I never felt jealous of him; that 
would have been like a fairly good high- 
school pitcher feeling jealous of Catfish 
Hunter or Ron Guidry. After a certain point 
the comparisons -that cause feelings of 
jealousy simply cease to exist. I've been 
there, and I can tell you:- You just stand back 
and shield your eyes from the flash burns. 
Bobby read at two and began writing at 
"three. His printing was Ihe straggling, 
struggling galvanic constructions of a six 
year-old. . .startling enough in itself; but if 

'ranscrbed so :h-ar. :he lagging motor con- 
trol no longer became an evaluative factor, 
you would have thought you were reading 
the work of a bright, if extremely naive, ju- 
nior high school student, Sometimes his 
syntax was garbled and his modifiers, 
misplaced; but he had such flaws — which 
plague most writers alt their lives — pretty 
well under control by age five. 

He developed headaches. My parents 
were afraid he had some sort of physical 
problem — a brain tumor, perhaps — and 
took him to a doctor who examined him 
carefully, listened to him even more care- 
fully, and then told my parents there was 
nothing wrong wrh Bobby except stress: 
He was in a stale of extreme frustration be- 
cause his hand would not work as well as 
his brain. "You got a kid trying to pass a 
mental kidney stone," the doctor said. "I 
could prescribe something for his head- 
aches, but I think the drug he really needs 
is a typewriter." So Mom and Dad gave 
Bobby an IBM. A year later they gave him 
a Commodore 64 with a WordStar pro- 
gram for Christmas, and Bobby's head- 
aches stopped . . . although he really be- 
lieved for the next two or three years that it 
was Santa Claus who put that word 
cruncher under the tree. 

Now that I think of it, that was maybe the 
only other place where I beat Bobby; I 
Santa :rainoc earlier, too. 

I could go on, and will have to, at least a 
little, but I'll have to go last. The deadline. 
Ah. the deadline. I once read a very funny 
piece called "The Essential Gone with !he 
Wind" that went like this: " A war?' laughed 
Scarlett. 'Oh, fiddledeedee! 1 Boom! 
Charleston was taken! Ashley died! At- 
lanta burned! Rhett walked in and then 
walked out! 'Fiddledeedee,' said Scarlett 
through her tears. 1 will think about it to- 
morrow, for tomorrow is another day' " I 
laughed heartily over that when I read it; 
now that I'm faced with doing it, it doesn't 
seem quite so funny. But here goes. 

'A child with an 1,0. immeasurable by 
any existing test?" smiled India Fornoy to 
her devoted husband. Richard. "Fiddle- 
deedee! We'll provide an atmosphere 
where his intellect — not to mention that of 
his something-less-than-moronic older 
brother— can 'grow, And we'll raise them 
as the normal. all-American boys they by 
gosh are!" Boom! The Fornoy brothers 
grew up! Howard went to Rutgers, gradu- 
ated cum laude. and settled down to a 
freelance-wriling career! Made a comfort- 
able living! Stepped out with a lot of women 
and went to bed with more than a few of 
them! Managed to avoid social diseases 
both sexual ana oha'msco oqical! Bought 
a Curtis-Mathis TV and a Mitsubishi stereo 
system! Wrote home at least once a week! 
Published two novels that did pretty well! 
"Fiddledeedee," said Howard, "this is the 
life for me!" And so it was, at least until the 
day Bobby showed up with his two glass 
boxes, a bee's nest in one and a wasp's 
nest in the other, Bobby wearing a Mum- 
ford Phys. Ed. T-shirt inside out in the best 


The vast bulk of the space shut- 
tle (facing page) sits on the 
launchpad at tiny Johnston Is- 
land in the equatorial Pacific 
Ocean. It is a monster rocket — 
as high as a 24-story building, 
more than 100 feet taller than the 
Statue of Liberty. The 65-foot- 
diameter base houses 51 mas- 
sive engines, which will lift the 
7,000-ton rocket from the earth. 

As the dawn countdown 
reaches zero and 5,000 tons of 
volatile nitric acid and hydra- 
zine ignite, the shuttle heaves 
skyward on a mile-long column 
of flame. The first and second 
stages separate, parachuting 
back into the ocean for even- 
tual recovery and reuse, and the 
glider-winged, manned third 
stage soars into Earth orbit, 
1,075 miles above the planet. 

Here its ten astronauts begin 
unloading the 36 tons of cargo 
they have ferried into space: 

building materials for the great 
wheel-shaped structure loom- 
ing close by (inset, page 76). 
When completed in 1963 the 
250-foot-diameter space sta- 
tion (pages 76 and 77) will 
house 80 technicians, scien- 
tists, and astronauts Then the 
crew begins the next phase of 
their mission: a manned land- 
ing on Earth's moon in 1964. 

This is how our space pro- 
gram could have evolved if, in 
1952, the editors and consul- 
tants of a magazine called Col- 
lier's had had their way. One of 
four top-circulation magazines 
that flourished in the Forties and 
the Fifties, Collier's was famous 










for its fiction, its exposes of 
government corruption, and its 
scoops on the latest scientific 
developments. Eventually the 
editors decided to investigate 
the feasibility of space travel in 
the (then) near future. 

In 1951 managing editor Gor- 
don Manning decided Collier's 
should hold a symposium on the 
subject. He gathered a team of 
experts who would dedicate 
themselves to exploring the 
possibility of space travel. 

The team Manning assem- 
bled included Wernher von 
Braun, then technical direct"'' of 

the Army Ordnance Guided 
Missile Command: Fred Whip- 
ple, chairman of astronomy at 
Harvard University; Joseph 
Kaplan, professor of physics at 
UCLA; Heinz Haber of the U.S. 
Air Force Department of Space 
Medicine; and the sympo- 
sium's general adviser, Willy 
Ley, an authority on space travel 
and rocketry. 

To translate the ideas of Von 
Braun and Ley into the pictures 
shown here, the team chose 
artists Chesley Bonestell, whose 
work had often appeared in 
Collier's; Fred Freeman, an- 

other Collier's veteran; and 
technical illustrator Rolf Klep. 

During the two-year course oi 
the magazine series a lull-scale 
space program was outlined. In ' 
the opinion of ihe Collier's sym- 
posium the United States could 
have an artificial satellite in or- 
bit by 1963 and a 50-rnan ex- 
pedition to the moon by 1964, 
all supported by a fleet of giani 
shuttle rockets and a manned 
space station. And all at a cost 
of only $4 billion! 

Their first step would be the 
launch of a "baby satellite," an 
unmanned artificial moon car- 


rying three rhesus monkeys. 
The 30-foot cone — 200 miles 
above Earth — would orbit for 60 
days. Eventually ii would reen- 
ter the atmosphere, incinerat- 
ing like a meteor. (The monkeys 
would be, thoughtfully, first 
given a dose of lethal gas.) 

The preliminaries for manned 
spaceflight would follow: exten- 
sive physical and psychologi- 
cal testing, the development of 
a space suit, special tools, es- 
cape pods — every necessary 
detail. The authors also speci- 
fied that women would be in- 
cluded from the beginning. 

. Once the manned orbital 
flights were successful the con- 
struction of the space station 
would follow. The completion of 
the station was slated for 1963. 
It not only provided a platform 
for observation of the earth but 
was the base of operations tor 
Ihe construction of the fleet of 
spaceships that would eventu- 
ally make the trip to the 

The space-station design has 
become a classic; a twin- 
spoked wheel 250 feet in di- 
ameter and a giant inner-tube- 
shaped rim 30 teet wide, di- 
vided into three concentric 
floors (see the large drawing on 
pages 76 and 77). The wheel's 

rotation used centrifugal force 
to generate gravity. The rim was 
divided into numerous depart- 
ments, including meteorology, 
communications, astronomy, 
and medical research. The sta- 
tion was also equipped with a 
minifleet of space taxis for in- 
traorbital maneuvering. 

While the magazine's letter 
columns were filled mostly with 
enthusiastic comments, the 
Collier's scenario prompted 
mixed reactions from others. 
Time magazine's editors, for 
example, admonished that an 
"oversold public . . , happily- 
mixing fact and fiction, appar- 
ently believes ihat spaceflight is 
just around ihe corner." 

But the public was right. Col- 
lier's surely can take some 
credit for the enthusiastic sup- 
port the event received when 
the United States launched its 
■irst Satellite four years later.DO 


of the brain's capacity lor work will help to 
determine a particular person's "boggle 
point," when a normal brain stops proc- 
essing information because it's over- 
loaded. The information could also be in- 
strumental when custom-designing an air 
traffic controller's console or an aircraft 
cockpit. The tool would be made to fit the 
user rather than requiring the user to fit an 
mprcpe r y ces gned tool. 

Medicine ultimately may be the biggest 
beneficiary of current MEG research. Par- 
kinson's disease, chronic pain, manic 
depression, and schizophrenia could be 
diagnosed more precisely and thus treated 
more effectively. But epilepsy is the ail- 
ment for which MEG research may have 
the most immediate application. 

Doctors nearly always use EEGs to draw 
maps ol epileptic spikes, the brain cells' 
electromagnetic emissions that indicate 
seizures. EEGs record the brain's electri- 
cal signals. Unfortunately, the skull distorts 
those signals. In a few instances doctors 
have had to drill holes in patients' skulls— 
sometimes as many as 100 holes — to place 
electrodes close to the brain, and this is a 
very risky business. 

MEG, on the other hand, uses passive 
scanners outside the skull and can reliably 
deteel and localize the same epileptic 
spikes magnetically — with no distortion. 
Indeed, Dr. Giovanni Ricci of Rome's Insti- 
tute of Neurosurgery recently used MEG 
in three cases to pinpoint epileptic tissue 
prior to surgery. 

People may revive from comas more 
quickly if stimulated, but finding what stim- 
ulus works best with a particular person — 
light, sound, touch — presents a problem. 
With a good brain map and MEG, doctors 
could quickly determine which stimuli reach 
the brain and then go on to select appro- 
priate treatment. During the 1973 Arab-Is- 
raeli war, Dr. Yehuda Ben-Yishay, director 
of New York University's Head Trauma Unit, 
noticed that soldiers who could not con- 
centrate because of head traumas re- 
covered more quickly if exposed to sen- 
sory stimulation — flashing lights or noise. 
At Los Alamos, Ed Flynn is preparing to 
extend Ben-Yishay "s work to comatose pa- 
tients. Flynn will soon scan children born 
in comas, hoping to establish ways of dif- 
ferentiating active and comatose areas in 
the brain. 

Only hard-hearted Malthusians quibble 
with improving medicine, but MEG prom- 
ises other technological improvements, 
some raising ethical questions. Flynn's Los 
Alamos group is using MEG to study how 
simple, sounds like ba, da, and ga are 
processed mechanically in the ear. They 
hope to apply this knowledge in the area 
of artificial intelligence. Though the. CIA 
won't discuss its MEG research, MEG of- 
fers potential tor a more sophisticated 
generation of lie detectors. DO 



threatening situations, but put them in sit- 
uations where they can use those natural 
abilities," he adds, 

Wild gibbons, for example, spend 70 
percent of their time foraging for food. 
"That's the beauty of their behavior— the 
fact that they run between Irees, pick the 
best fruit, find another tree, goon like that," 
he says. Yet in captivity, with their large 
canines and rapierlike nails, "they typically 
are fed by having food thrown on the floor 
through a slot so they can't get the keeper." 

In one of his first Portland projects Mar- 
kowitz devised an apparatus that enabled 
the zoo's gibbons to obtain food by swing- 
ing between two elevated stations. New 
animals learned the technique from the 
animals involved in the original experi- 
ment, and for the few gibbons who chose 
not to participate, food was provided in the 
usual way. "It's not as if any of this stuff is 
forced on them," Markowilz says. "They 
choose it themselves." 

Predators pose a ticklish problem. They. 
too, get bored. One way to pique their in- 
terest would be to give them the chance to 
kill another animal. Zoos, understandably. 
are squeamish about this idea. 

Insects are about the only live food zoos 
will serve. Markowitz, in fact, once built 
three cricket dispensers for an exhibit of 
Asian river otters at the now defuncl Ma- 
rine World/Africa USA in California. Visitors 
pressed buttons to determine which dis- 
penser would yield the next cricket. No- 
body shed any tears for the insects, al- 
though keepers did stage a mock protest 
called the Save the Crickets Movement 
and, in fun. picketed an employee party. 

Real blood and guts, however, do not go 
over big with first graders on field trips. So 
Markowitz has built exhibits to trick captive 
predators into showing off their predatory 
skills without shedding blood. For a zoo in 
Hawaii he designed fake, mechanical prey 
to attract the zoo's tigers. By scratching a 
fake tree with a built-in sensor, the tigers 
caused a fake rabbit and a fake squirrel to 
pop out of two artificial mounds in the ex- 
hibit (Tigers in the wild often scratch irees 
as a prelude to hunting.) If the tiger caught 
its prey — that is, swatted it or pounced on 
it — another device would deliver refriger- 
ated meat to the exhibit. The tigers got ex- 
ercise and amusement; zoo visitors got a 
chance to see tigers at work. 

But therein lies the paradox of the bet- 
ter-zoo movement. Zoos seek ever more 
naturalistic environments: yet no zoo, Mar- 
kowitz contends, really wants to re-create 
the wild. "Nobody wants nature in the zoo 
because nobody wants to see Bambi die," 
he says. "Nobody wants to see the way 
animals really make their living." 

Mgrkowitz believes that his machines 
can restore at least some of their lost rights 
and powers. "We have an obligation," he 
says, "because we have taken those things 
away from them." DQ 


You never know 
who you'll be up against 
when you go online 
with CompuServe; 



indefatigable crusaders for life extension. 

"You just aren't used to the seventeen- 
thousand-foot altitude here in Laramie," 
Smith-Sonneborn said as she mopped my 
fevered brow with her lab coat and watched 
me swallow a Coca-Cola whole. 

Likewise, the week before, California 
physicist Richard Hochschild tested my 
physiological age with his highly ac- 
claimed and accurate H-Scan machine. 
"You actually look young for your age," he 
kindly offered, along with a Kleenex, when 
the H-Scan's cold computer printout pro- 
nounced me five years my senior. 

All in all it was a humbling, harrowing 
odyssey but well worth the effort. The five 
charismatic leaders profiled here are truly 
inspirational revolutionaries, reminders that 
attitude and action can change the course 
of history and alter our view of reality. By 
normal standards these enthusiastic ad- 
vocates of life extension might seem opin- 
ionated, hard-headed, egocentric, and 
single-minded, but who can deny that theirs 
is at least a beautiful obsession? Among 
the most articulate, altruistic activists in the 
field, Ihey confront the fate that most of us 
deny, refusing to succumb without a fight. 
Meanwhile, those of us who remain as re- 
signed to death as we are to taxes — and 
five years beyond our chronological age — 
can only sit back and wish them the very 
best of luck. 


Striding into the Clear Springs Cafe, a 
century-old barn turned saloon near New 
Braunfels, Texas, big, barrel-chested Don 
Yarborough seems the kind of larger-than- 
life Texas character all the myths are made 
of. So is his gunslinger attitude toward 
death. "Death is just like a bounty hunter 
or a hired gun out to get you; you can stand 
there quaking in your boots or hiding un- 
der the covers until he finds you, or you 
can try te do something ahead of time to 
save yourself." 

Yarborough began his career as a law- 
yer with a nine-man Houston firm, then went 
on to amass self-made millions with 
shrewdly purchased real estate in Houston 
and along the Austin-San Antonio corridor 
before the big boom fizzled out. With yet 
anotherfamity to raise (he's on his third wife 
and sixth child), this backsliding Episco- 
palian is understandably loath to give up 
all this prime acreage for an eight- by four- 
foot burial plot. 

Though he keeps abreast of every de- 
velopment in the field of aging and has 
funded life extension research lo a high 
six-figure tune, some prices are too high to 
pay even for the gift of life. 

"I'm bad about exercise. In fact, I'm fat," 
he declares, patting the beer belly under- 
neath his tennis shirt, which doesn't even 
qualify him as paunchy by Texas stan- 
dards. "I play a little tennis, do some walk- 
ing, and a lot oftalking," he cracks. "I don't 
smoke but do like to eat and drink in mod- 
eration, and I just hate to diet," he adds 
unnecessarily, washing down his fried- 


shrimp special with three white wines. 

Yarborough, who's always been a sci- 
ence buff, first got interested in aging re- 
search 'more than a quarter century ago. 
"I'd been reading science journals for 
years, and the more I read, the more 1 
started to notice that we were on the verge 
of a scientilic revolution in the aging field," 
he says. "Every year it seemed as if the 
control of aging were'getting to be more 
and more feasible." 

When he launches into a long recitation 
of why he firmly believes that physical sal- 
vation is at hand, he both sounds and looks 
like evangelist Billy Graham, except that 
Yarborough's steel-gray crew cut could 
never be "moussed" into a pompadour. 
With a pinbailing speed that leaves a lis- 
tener breathless, Yarborough ricochets 
from subject to subject: on the govern- 
ment's obligation to save the lives of its 
people, on the NIA's (National Institute of 
Aging) need to spend more on the me- 
chanics of aging , on the promise of protein 

'•Most people 
don't confront death until they 

have to, but It's 

' hard to understand how a 

- ' rational person 

who does confront it 

wouldn't want 

to do something about it3 

engineering, on the heartening advances 
in sophisticated laboratory tools, on the 
plethora of biotech companies now 
scrambling to beat down death's door . . . 
on and on and on. 

Finally, taking one deep breath and one 
big gulp, Yarborough concludes his tent- 
revival sermon by hazarding a guess that 
a way to cure genetic disease may come 
as soon as Christmas. Just how long would 
he like to give himself? "Well, I enjoy life an 
awful lot, and if it stays as good as it is, I 
would love to go on another fifty or one 
hundred years at least." 

Asked if he personally fears death, Yar- 
borough pauses thoughtfully and then an- 
swers in the second person. "Well, I think 
as you get older you get less and less afraid 
of it.-. . . Like everybody else you've just 
been programmed to accept that that's 
what's gonna happen, so the program just 
takes over and makes you more almost 
matter-of-fact about it." 

Not that he'd go willingly. "If some doctor 
said I had just a year to live, I'd spend most 
of my time doin' everything I could to lick it 
before it licked me. That just fits my per- 
sonality," he says 


As a twenty-nine-year-old consultant with 
NASA, David Brown saw his career pros- 
pects soar when the Eagle landed 
smoothly, courtesy of the landing gear he'd 
designed for NASA's first lunar module. But 
this former space engineer turned real es- 
tate magnate turned financier turned en- 
ergy-management executive is also a pas- 
sionate life extension philanthropist. 
"Remember when they said it was utterly 
impossible to land a man on the moon?" 
he asks. "Now they say it's impossible to 
substantially prolong life. Well, we man- 
aged that giant step for mankind, and we 
can manage this one, too." 

Still in the habit of thinking for himself. 
Brown vehemently rejects the prevailing 
myth that the prospect of death is what 
gives life meaning. "I disagree," he says 
quietly, sipping iced tea and ordering 
mushroom soup and blackened redfish. 
"Unless you're a very religious person, I 
think it's exactly the opposite: Death is what 
makes life not have very much meaning." 

The son of a poor railway postal clerk, 
Brown is still recovering from his father's 
sudden death from a pulmonary embolism 
several months ago. "Both my parents were 
very devout Christians," Brown says, men- 
tioning the trip to the Holy Land he sent 
them on, "but I'm afraid I'm more of an ag- 
nostic. I hope God is out there, but I sus- 
pect he isn't. But even without God's help 
we have it within our power to save our- 
selves," he declares. "What's stopping us, 
aside from a 'critical dearth of funding, is 
the almost universal tendency to deny 
death's existence. Most people don't con- 
front death until they have to, but frankly, 
it's hard for me to understand how a ra- 
tional person who does confront it wouldn't 
want to do something about it." 

Claiming he's far from an ideal execu- 
tive—prone to giving sketchy instructions 
and losing his patience — he delegates 
much of his energy- management compa- 
ny's business to others and spends an ex- 
tensive amount of his own time and money 
advancing the cause of life extension. 
Brown is an original member of the Alli- 
ance for Aging and the founder of the 
Foundation for the Enhancement and Ex- 
tension of Life (FEEL), a nonprofit organi- 
zation designed to fund research projects 
and engender more public interest in the 
control of aging. The money Brown spends 
on this venture is strictly his own, he's care- 
ful to say, not his stockholders'. 

Using the modest, not the royal, "we" 
throughout our talk, Brown specifies his 
foundation's projects to date. "We've put 
about half our money into research, espe- 
cially seed money for various experimental 
things. For instance, we gave money to help 
develop accurate physiological biomark- 
ers, since it's impossible to study aging if 
you can't measure it." At the same time, he 
adds, the foundation funded a controver- 
sial project with University of California at 
Berkeley research scientists Paul Segall 
and Paolo Timiris in the field of cryonics, or 

body freezing. "You know ihe Robert Frosi 
poem about ending in fire or ice?" he asks. 
"Well, give me ice, since it won't be long 
before we'll be able to achieve true hiber- 
nation, ready to be lhawed when whatever 
killed us can be cured." 

Despite receiving the standard tax write- 
off for nonprofit charities, FEEL is fiscally a 
losing proposition for Brown but one that 
might reap priceless long-term benefits— 
in his lifetime. "Like most of my fellow life 
extensionists, I'm insatiably curious — and 
selfish," he says. "I have a very enjoyable 
life, one in which I can basically go where 
I want, do what I wanf , and buy what I want. 
But there's simply no way, with a normal life 
span, to do or experience all that I'd like. 
Besides, I really enjoy being productive— 
and reproductive, too," he adds, pausing 
to boast about his three grown children. 
"There must be some kind of a God," he 
says with a twinkle, "because love and sex 
are actually good for your health." 

As for wanting to live longer: "I want as 
many years of healthy life as possible. I think 
the ideal situation would be if everyone 
could live as long as they wanted to," he 
adds altruistically. "A thousand years 
sounds good to me." 


For the past 30 years business tycoon 
Paul Glenn has been the Santa Claus of 
life extension, donating well over $2 million 
of his own money to aging research. Dur- 
ing a lengthy conversation from his home 
in Scottsdale, Arizona, Glenn is graciously 
expansive, delivering a lucid assessment 
of how things stand in the field and where 
he stands, pausing several limes to vol- 
unteer a dozen different names and phone 
numbers that might prove helpful. Despite 
the reams of factual data Glenn rattled off 
with computer-printout speed, his feelings 
are exposed just as fully and expressed 
with heartfelt candor. 

"Being an only child, life had always been 
very pleasant; I was treated like a crown 
prince, essentially, and was exposed to a 
very rosy view of fhe world. So in my late 
teens, when I watched my granddad die 
of cancer, if was shocking to see the 
tougher side of reality and confront the 
presence of death. I resolved then ihat 
since nothing was more valuable than 
healthy human life, trying to help extend 
human life was the most valuable thing I 
could do in this world. However," he drolly 
interjects, "because my dad had brain- 
washed me into first making money in the 
business world, I did. But the aging thing 
stayed on my mind." 

In 1965, already a.self-made millionaire", 
Glenn became friends with an early cham- 
pion for the rights of the aged, Florence 
Mahoney, best known for ramrodding. the 
NIA through Congress over Richard Nix- 
on's vehement objections. She impressed 
on this young idealist [he critical .import- 
ance of establishing an organization to 
serve as a visible, effective power base. 
Taking her advice, he formed the Glenn- 

Foundation for Medical Research. "I also 
got involved with Denham Harman, who 
developed the free-radical theory of aging 
twenty-six years ago; we supported his 
work and also Johann Bjorksten's cross- 
link theory of aging, and we scattered 
money around in various directions for a 
lot of years," he sighs, "without what you'd 
really call a breakthrough. I'd say most in- 
vestigators would concede that we still 
don't know much about the aging process. 

"But," he continues, "we do know a lot 
more than we did when I got started, and 
now we have the tools and the techniques 
to make cells give up their secrets, and — 
more importantly — we have better re- 
searchers with better ideas than ever be- 
fore. So while it may sound contradictory 
to say that I'm far more pessimistic than 
anybody else, I'm also still an optimist." 

He's more a clear-eyed than a cock- 
eyed opfimist, though. Reminded that sev- 
eral well-respected scientists, including 
Roy Walford and Joan Smith-Sonneborn, 
now predict the likelihood of major break- 
throughs in ihe next five to ten years, Glenn 
impatiently snaps, "Yes, they do believe 
that. But on the other hand. I've been hear- 
ing statements like that for a long, long 
time"— an understandable attitude for a 
man who has been hearing for 30 years 
that his check is in the mail and has yet to 
receive a single dividend. 

"It seems logical to me to expect that a 
combination of life-style, exercise,. and 

chemical intervention that might increase 
our DNA-iGpair capability might help," he 
sums up, "but frankly, fifty-five looks pretty 
old to me right now. it's about the seventh 
inning of the ball game for me." 

In the meantime he does what he can to 
save himself. "I avoid liquor, I've never 
smoked, I've never even gotten married," 
he says, laughing, though he has come 
close several times. Though described by 
friends as tail, thin, robust, and perpetually 
smiling, with a zip-a-dee-doo-dah cheer- 
fulness, Glenn has a nasty-sounding cough 
this day, as he details his health regimen; 
a Pritikin low-calorie, low-protein, high-car- 
bohydrate diet; a lot of vitamins; and sup- 
plements like selenium, choline, and sev- 
eral other compounds — though taken in 
much smaller amounts than by the fearless 
likes of Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw. "We 
simply don't know the long-term effects of 
those megadoses, and I don't have the 
courage to be a guinea pig." he says. Like 
Yarborough and Brown, Glenn finds it hard 
to mix hard exercise with the easy life. "I 
do play a lot ot golf and carry my own bag 
and almost jog," he says, "but I probably 
get more exercise just going nineteen hours 
a day like I do." 

He sadly agrees that his life is more pur- 
poseful than pleasurable. "I spend three 
quarters of my iime making money and one 
quarter of my time deciding how to give it 
away," he says. "Still, making money is fun, 
and so is participating in the creative proc- 


The way we age is undergoing 

a profound transformation. Today's middle-aged 

man is the next century's youth 



You're probably wondering why 
the man above looks so strange. 
He is forty years old, but the two 
halves of his body live in different 
centuries. The right side of his 
body (left side of picture) repre- 
sents the forty-year-old male of 
1986: skin sagging, hairline re- 
ceding, muscles stiffening. But his 

better half (left side of body, right 
side of picture) is what the forty- 
year-old man of the twenty-first 
century will look, and feei, like — 
if longevity research is allowed to 
develop its potential. 

Why must we grow old and die? 
What triggers the settling of 
bones, the shifting of flesh, the 


resculpting of contours? The an- 
swers are still being worked out 
by an energetic core of scientific 
researchers. And from that work 
a new pattern may emerge, one 
in which the life span of the hu- 
man being verges on immortality. 
It doesn't occur to the average 
young man that the aging proc- 
ess has already begun. But by 
age twenty-five, he has already 
shrunk slightly so that by forty- 
five he will have lost an eighth of 
an inch in height. He has also 
grown hairier, but not where it 
counts. On the top of his head, an 
overload of the male hormone 
testosterone is short-circuiting 
hair growth. His skull is thicken- 
ing, enlarging the head's circum- 
ference about one-quarter inch 
every ten years. His shoulders are 
narrowing, and muscle mass is 
yielding to fat — in deference to 
muscle cells that fail to regener- 
ate and repair themselves. His 
vocal cords have stiffened, pitch- 
ing his speaking voice higher. And 
because the brain takes slightly 
more time to process information, 




















At no point in man's history have there been so many dramatic advances in the 
science of life extension and in the number of years we can stay healthy, active, 
and young. Even more exciting is the revelation that it's never too late or too 
early to begin! With this in mind, we would like to invite you into a bold new 
world in which people do, in fact, live longer, more vibrant lives — the world of 
LONGEVITY. Not just another fitness magazine, LONGEVITY is the extraordinary 
new monthly newsletter bringing you the latest breakthroughs and up-to-the- 


More and more we're finding that 
the overwhelming majority of per- 
sonal issues related to health and 
longevity are within our control. 
LONGEVITY will draw together the 
latest findings on how we can retard 
the aging process and prolong 

• Why do we age? 

• How can we help our bodies 
stay young? 

• Are there ways to rejuvenate the 
human brain? 

The quality of your life is yours to de- 
termine—and LONGEVITY will show 
you how. 


There is a great deal of confusion 
about the products now crowding 
the health-care market. LONGEVITY 
will cutthrough all the clutter and 
offer clear, concise reports on how 
they stack up. 

• How do antiaging creams 
compare against each other? 

■ Which hair-growth formulas re- 
ally work? 

■ Are there memory drugs avail- 
able that can enhance intelli- 

LONGEVITY'S "Consumer Watch" 
column is a report evaluating the 
newest products on today's market; 
how they work, if they work. 


The question of what diet best pro- 
motes health and longevity has long 
been imbued with controversy. In 
order to help you choose the best 
diet, LONGEVITY will help you under- 
stand the basic principles. 

■ How many of the old nutritional 
tenets are viable today? 

■Do vitamins C and E help extend 

■ Can polyunsaturated oils hurt 
■ more than help? 
LONGEVITY will bring you the most 
encouraging advances available 
today on achieving longevity 
through dietary manipulation. 


In the pages of LONGEVITY you'll 
meet the practitioners of the new 
life-extension techniques. 

"Information is already available 
to enable one to live more than 
120 years." 

— Roy Walford, geronfologist 
UCLA Medical Center 
"People now under thirty (and 
perhaps those substantially older) 
can look forward — at least tenta- 
tively — to medicine's overtaking 
their aging process and deliver- 
ing them safely to an era of cell 
repair, vigor, and indefinite life 

— Eric Drexler, author 
Engines of Creation 

LONGEVITY will examine the per- 
sonal regimens of today's visionaries 
and determine how useful they may 
be for others. 

As a charter subscriber to LONGEVITY you are entitled to receive, abso- 
lutely free and with no obligation, the next issue of LONGEVITY, If you are 
not completely satisfied, simply write "cancel" on your bill and return it. 
You get to keep the first issue — free — and owe us nothing, 

If you choose to subscribe (and we think you Willi), you pay just $29— a 
savings of 40% off the regular price of $48— for a total of 12 monthly issues. 
If at any time you become dissatisfied with LONGEVITY simply let us know, 
and you'll receive a full refund for all unmailed issues. 


Eliminating death does not seem 
likely. But a number of visionaries 
have given us pause to reflect. 

• Can memory and identity be 
transplanted from one lifetime to 
the next? 

■ Is there a way to repair the body 
on a molecular level to keep it 
running indefinitely? 

• Can genetic engineering re- 
design our bodies to live for- 

Each month, our 'lifelines to the 
Future" column will help bring 
you closer to the frontiers of life 


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LONGEVITY will visit the front of aging 
research and bring back the kind of 
information that could change the 
lives of all who read it. 


Reports featured in upcoming issues 
will include: Ceil repair machines 
that could maintain perfect health 
forever , . , How a woman's brain 
ages differently from a man's . . . The 
modern doctor's physical . . . Make 
yourself younger from the inside 
out . . . The optimal weight for 
longevity . . . Building a better brain 
. . . The cities that give you a longevity 
edge ... A drug that cures obesity 
and diabetes . . . The next one-a-day 
vitamin . . . Add decades to lifespan 
through diet ... A chemical antidote 
to stress . . . The way to rejuvenate 
aged skin . . . The scientists winning 
the war against memory loss . . . 
Clues to why we age . . . Drugs that 
help you lose weight safely . . . Slow 
your rate of aging in three weeks' 
time . . . How to be young in the year 
2010 . , . Preventing the onset of 
glaucoma and cataracts . . . 
Exercising for longevity ... A new 
technology that promises to reverse 
the effects of brain damage . . . 
Hormones that boost the immune 
system . . . Looks, brains and 
longevity . . . Why women outlive 
men . . . Tuning up the body's self- 
repair mechanisms ... 


■ i, ,.' i ■ ;i| 


Retooling genes for a longer life . . . 
Bringing dead tissue back to life 
. . . Life extension profiles on Senator 
Alan Cranston, geronlologist Roy 
Walford, Life Extension founder Saul 
Kent, Life Extension authors Durk 
Pearson and Sandy Shaw, and others 
. . . Consumer reports on memory 
drugs, life extension formulas, 
vitamins, hair-growth formulas, 
antiaging skin creams, calcium 

products, fitness programs, health 
spas . . . The value of cell extract 
injections . . . Spas that claim to make 
you younger . . . Finding out your 
"true" age . . . Natural longevity aids 
. . . Mind over longevity . . . Aging 
myths . . . Curing insomnia . . . The 
power of dreams . . . Machines that 
cleanse blood clogged with fat . . . 
How a woman ages . . . Conceiving a 
child at 60 . . . Cell transplants that 
could build a whole new brain . . . 
Reversing the effects of stroke . . . 
Drugs that make you smarter . . . 
New and improved antioxidants . . . 
Life preservers . . . Natural enemies 
, . , Aging index . . . Lifestyles of 
the 100+ set . . . Food for life . . . Why 
we die . . . Resetting the biological 
clock . . . Preventing bone loss . . . 
Antiaging drugs . . . How to avoid 
cutting life short . . . Energizing the 
body's youth factors . . . The world's 
longest-lived people . . . Fetal exiract 
with life-prolonging potential . . . 
Protecting cells against damage . . . 
The value of "life extension" formulas 
. . . Finding the genes that control 
how long we live . . . Ageless athletes 
. , . Lifelines to the future ... Old 
age in the next century . . . 


The first creams to repair aged skin 
. . . Biomarkers of aging . . . People 
who expect to live forever . . . Tracking 
the secret of youth ... A survival kit 
for the 21 st century . . . Whither 
funding for aging research . . . 
Achieving optimal health . . . 
Personality and longevity . . . The 
height advantage . . . Growing 
younger . . . How a man ages . . . 
Transplanting memory from one 
lifetime to the next ... An oil that helps 
prevent age-related disorders ... In 
search of the "death hormone" . . . 
Gorgeous at 80 . . . The lowdown on 
megadosing . . . Antiaging nutrients 
that work . . . Longevity indicators . . . 
Improve with age . . . Thinking young. 






































This con artist can 

turn a fast buck, but with the 

right shill he can make 

3 fortune and live high on the hog 





■ l was the year of [he 
Tricentennial; 2076. I was up on Ptolemy, 
working the traveling bubbledome-carnival 
circuit with a peripatetic three-card-monte 
game thai brought in steady money without 
putting much of a hurt on folks. 

I'd been a preacher back on Earth in one 
of the biggest and most powerful of the 
evangelical TV transnational. I thought I was 
up-and-coming in the firm, so I was damned 
surprised to be assigned way the hell oul to 
Ptolemy to do this straight-out missionary 
shot for the pioneers. But it was my Call, and 
I accepted it with a fighting simulation of a 
cheerful heart. 1 was ready to drop Earth like 
a hot potato anyway, just like everybody else 
you met down there at the time who could 
get his hands on a Geiger counter: We are. 
as the saying goes, talking Main Chance 
here. So I was really about as amazed as 
anybody else when I up and ran off to follow 
the circus just ten days after I stepped down 


Irom the Goddard onto thai hoi, hard, or- 
ange ground ot Piolemy. But I had to go. 
AH it took was one good look at the master 
program they'd put together for the pi- 
oneers up there — particularly the nestled 
behavioral subroutines conlrolling subject 
attitudes toward sex, death, money, and 
the work ethic. A very big fix was in, and I 
just figured I couldn't be a part of it and still 
live with myself. So since I couldn't get of! 
Piolemy, all I could do was head out like 
any old Huckleberry Finn. 

But I found out fast that I was not the only 
runaway fruit fly on this blazing little Sun- 
kisl ball. I quickly ran into the small cadre 
of painted ladies and smiling-doggie. small- 
time con artists that had sprung up like a 
cheap bouquet of paper wildf lowers on the 
edges of the Company's nearly limitless 
bureaucracy. All of these folks had been 
something else, sometime; but they had 
found out fast in the Ptolemaic outback that 
they would have to metamorphose their 
former arts and skills into things that could 
turn them a fast buck Me, I metamor- 
phosed a Trinitarian ministry into a little 
three-card-monte routine. At the first pang 
of hunger, I saw the transformational light, 
and I decided to live in and by it. The Com- 
pany tolerated the ladies as a biological 
necessity, and it tolerated us con artists as 
that time-honored, necessary distraction 
that has always been called entertain- 
ment. But the Company stood still for the 
existence of both groups on the sole con- 
dition that it got its fair tithed share from the 
hookers and from us. So, yeah, I was al- 
lowed to live — and to live outside the hid- 
eous Company prison— only because I of- 
fered the workforce a small opportunity to 
let off a little diversionary steam via a spot 
of indulgence in some floating three-card. 
Alas, after two finger-callusing years, the 
trouble inevitably got to be what the trouble 
always gets to be: I couldn't make enough 
money to live. Three-card is like the old shell 
game in that you really need a partner to 
shill it for you. Somebody to talk the rubes 
in and keep them in. And somebody good 
enough at acting to play the capper's role 
on occasion — to pretend to be a mark who 
is beating you at your own game. So I be- 
gan to plan on getting me one. 

it was important to get one quick be- 
cause I wanted to make a killing off the 
Tricentennial. It was the American way, and 
everybody else had their hands in the pa- 
triotic pie up -to their eagle-and-flag-tat- 
tooed forearms on all five of the colonized 
planets and moons, buying low during the 
first half of 2076 and hoping like hell to sell 
high during the actual week of the Fourth. 

So I made it my plan to look for a mallea- 
ble apprentice larcenist whilst on my 
monthlong vacation with Black Johnny 
Walker and Doubledeck Lonely Hearts. I . 
needed a blue-eyed, towheaded mis- 
creant possessed of a natural bucolic 
shtick lo play the .confidence-inspiring 
young American citizen in these little one- 
act outrages I was forever writing in my 
head The ideal shill would, in fact, be a 

102 OMNI 

cryotrauma slave case — or, as the slang 
had it, a "Frank" — who would meet those 
surface aesthetic criteria, who would work 
tor less than a kid off the street, who would 
worship the person he or she worked for, 
and who could be taught to do a job about 
as well as anybody else. (Frank is diminu- 
tive for the name people remember as be- 
longing to the poor creature invented by 
Mary Shelley and played by Boris Karloff 
in the movies.) Not too many folks knew it 
then or know it now, but back on Earth in 
the first part of the century they had this 
international project in cryogenic medi- 
cine called Freeze Till Fix. They were using 
people killed in accidents, car crashes 
mostly, as cryogenic-research subjects; 
and they simply fast-froze these bits of 
highway unhappiness until the time when 
they could mend them in a manner suffi- 
cient to make that depressing old blue, flal 
line turn into some of your merry little hop- 
skip-and-jump vital signs. So when the big 
cryogenics breakthrough came in theThir- 

was sitting in a huge walnut 

rocking chair; 
in his lap was a squealing, 

' half-grown hog 

with the smooth, translucent 

pinkness of the 

erstwhile piglet still upon him.V 

ties, they brought about halt of these peo- 
ple back fasterthan you could say "bioeth- 
ical questions of terrifying magnitude." 

But — without the accompanying renais- 
sance in bionics and the sudden appear- 
ance of the infamous parting-out busi- 
nesses on the black market, we would not 
have seen Franks in the vast numbers that 
we did. it happened, however, that the 
support industries were there. And so 
Franks by the hundreds of thousands were 
soon there too, mostly stumbling around 
with glazed-out expressions on their faces. 

Naturally, as you might expect, the first 
thought on lots of people's minds was, Let's 
jam neurochips into these archaic bas- 
tards' skulls and enslave them and make 
lots of easy cash off of them. There were 
strict laws against that kind of entrepre- 
neurship in America, but not in some of the 
other countries that had Franks on ice; and 
thus it came to pass that there was this 
ugly little chapter — excised, I have no- 
ticed, from most official histories of Ptol- 
emy — in which the.Company bought three 
"hundred Franks tram Argentina with un- 
traceable dollars and implanted them with 
the infamous program the big guns re- 

ferred to in-house as Stepin Fetchit. And 
those Franks — bought to serve as slave 
labor for eternity — were Ptolemy- bound. 

What Argentina did not tell the Com- 
pany — and, in fact, may not have known, 
since some of these Franks were scraped 
off Earth's freeways as early as the 1990"s — 
was that the majority of them had, in fact, 
been previously programmed to be skill- 
specific slaves of various kinds (usually 
done with the subject's consent, in return 
for a guaranteed minimum wage plus ben- 
efits—illegal after 1997 but not before) and 
that sometimes that ancient circuitry had 
not been even half-assedly yanked out by 
the people who awakened these marginal 
citizens years later from their deep, icy beds 
into the new servitudinal warmth of Frank- 
dom. So — when I set myself up to interview 
potential slaves in my vanilla-scented hotel 
room on the first day of my vacation, one 
of my main concerns, obviously, was to nail 
any previous enslavement programs that 
might still be in there. For example, you 
wouldn't want a slave for your three-card- 
monte shill who'd been previously pro- 
grammed to garrote any inquisitive person 
who asked, "What's going on here?" 

After interviewing five or six seriously 
fucked-up Franks during all of one typi- 
cally steamy Monday' on Ptolemy, I got dis- 
couraged and began to despair of finding 
anybody who'd be really first-rate — who'd 
provide smooth, suave, intelligent-seem- 
ing service as a shill, all the while being 
dominated to hell and gone by a good old 
slave-mentality neurochip that would ren- 
der him happy only in the total service of a 
perfect master such as myself. I stood up, 
stretched, and strolled out into the white 
fluorescent hall. And I hunkered down and 
sort of somnambulistically began dealing 
some three-card on the hall carpet. Sure, I 
was on vacation, but I'd been dealing this 
game nonstop for two years, and I didn't 
know how to quit. I even did it in my sleep. 

I soon had me a perfect embryonic au- 
dience of Iwo or three fat. drugged-out 
Company execs there in the hall, sitting 
around on the thick, periwinkle blue car- 
pet, and they started losing a little money 
to me. But there was this one dopey-look- 
ing guy who was on to it, and he kept win- 
ning off me every precious piece of change 
the suckers lost. I had to cut my losses, so 
I claimed I had a phone call to make. I quit 
dealing and put the cards in my vest pocket 
(ever at the ready). And I did all the other 
tiny rituals necessary for folding up my 
metaphorical tent and stealing gracefully 
away — mostly small-talk rituals of grin, nod, 
and harrumph to provide the twin illusions 
of conlinuity and closure so crucial to the 
happiness of men in groups. 

But the dopey-looking guy stayed. He 
was wearing blue-tinted mirror glasses and 
a pink silk scarf, and he was filing his nails 
with a real metal file, albeit a small one. 
Dangerous sign, ihat. He smiled an abnor- 
mally twisted smile — a sardonic, knowing 
smile, too — as he handed me back all the 
money he'd won. "I know how you do it," 

he said. "Used to deal a little three-card 
rn'self," he said. "I'm here for the interview." 
he also said. "I am Caligula Comae." 

We went back into my room. I poured a 
drink for Ihis fucked-up Frank — I'd know 
one of those Frank smiles anywhere — and 
a drink for me. "Caligula, how'd you die?" 

"Shot" He sort of chuckled and blushed 
embarrassedly. "Shot with a genuine 
twenty-gauge snorgun, in point of fact." 

"Who shot you?" 

"Hog farmer." 


"Caught me pig stealin'. Prettiest little 
pink'darlin' you ever laid your eyes on." 

"Why were you stealing his pig?" 

Comae lit a Pall Mall, inhaled deeply, and 
let the blue smoke pour out of him along 
with a deep sigh. "Born-again pig thief, 
programmed to steal pigs for a stock-rus- 
tling outfit out of Greenville, Texas, and — " 

"This was a voluntary programming?" 

"Oh, yeah, voluntary; hell, yeah," he said 
with a slight grimace. He spoke extremely 
slowly. I could just barely see that his eyes 
were shut behind his sparkling blue lenses. 
"I mean, my folks were gone and I had to 
have a skill of some kind to survive, and 
they had these specific programs back 
then — parts of that wild old underground 
implant master they called Fagin, you 
may've heard of it — which fixed you to do 
lightly felonious thievery o! an ultraspecific 
sort for an exacting central taskmaster." He 
grinned. "My sort was stealing pigs." 

Now. there had always been a thriving 
hog business on Ptolemy. This was be- 
cause the Company surveys showed that 
the workers wanted pOrk chops, pork 
roasts, ham sandwiches, and BLTs. And 
that finding never varied from day one. 

So that meant pigs. But the Company 
kept its porkers in sufficiently short supply 
to keep the prices jacked up, so pig steal- 
ing was a profitable, small-time under- 
world enterprise. Caligula Comae had been 
shipped up to Ptolemy as part of a five- 
Frank deal after he and the four others had 
been brought back in Buenos Aires from a 
long, cold sleep. As a Frank known to come 
with a powerful slave implant and an 
equally powen'u' Fagin p:g-ihief program, 
Caligula was snapped up by a notorious 
hog-ring boss, name of Harry Hopkins, who 
was eventually caught and hung at a Com- 
pany picnic for running his Fagin ring. The 
late Mr. Hopkins's Franks were then, of 
course, appropriated by the Company and 
mostly reprogrammed as office menials. 

It was a good story. I always loved a 
good story. 

"I was the best pig thief in this venue," 
Caligula said, "and I was goddamned 
proud of it." He looked out the window at 
the transparent, gray bubbledome of the 
circus, with the wind-beaten pennants 
flapping madly atop it in eight bright pastel 
hues. "I could lift a shoat out of a pen, from 
under a porch, up from the trough, day or 
night, even under a full moon, anywhere or 


\ ^\% 


anyhow; and nobody wouldn't hear a sin- 
gle, solitary, squeal. It's all in the way you 
grab hold of 'em and carry 'em afterward." 

I lit a King Edward cigar, took another 
long hit of Johnny Walker, and smiled my 
most laconic and disingenuous smile. In 
as casual a fashion as l_ could muster, I 
asked Caligula Comae the big one: "That 
old pig-pilferage program still in there?" 

"Naw. They erased that bastard four 
years ago when they made me pink-collar 
and put me over in Files." 

"Why're you leaving the Company?" 

'Just boring as hell there in Files, really. 
They told me they'd put me on someplace 
else, but I decided to strike out on my own. 
You never get anywhere workin' for wages 
in the free-enterprise system." 

I looked at him as piercingly as I could. 
"You want to work for me, though," I said. 
"And you won't even be getting wages ex- 
actly. You'll be a damned slave. Again!" I 
knew there was nothing he could do about 
his slave mentality, but I liked him enough 
to want to warn him. 

Caligula Comae downed his drink and 
looked back out the window, crunching the 
ice cubes with-teeth made from God knows 
what. "Workin' tor a man ain't like workin' 
for a bureaucracy," he said, "So it would 
be a start for me, mister." 

I felt a real salt tear invade each eye. He 
was right in what he said. I had to agree 
with his sentiments— and admire [he man 
who had uttered them. 

And so it capne to pass that I decided, 
in that precise time and place, to invest a 
very little money in exchange for what I 
hoped would be a shitload of slave labor. 

At no point in my life prior to the preced- 
ing month or so would I have ever taken on 
a Frank. I would have thought it immoral 
and degrading and just categorically evil. 
But now I knew more about the American 
Dream being celebrated by the Tricenten- 
nial. I had learned the eternal economic 
truth that profit is uncompensated labor. 
And that central truth, I figured, must mean 
that uncompensated labor — somebody 
else's — is the very heart of the American 
Dream, the real meaning of 1776 and 2076. 
So on this day I gleefully, and in high good 
conscience, took on a Frank: Caligula 
Comae. On the starry night following that 
same day, I went down to the embubbled 
circus tents and started running a little 
three-card in my regular licensed area. In 
his thespian debut Comae was to play the 
time-honored role of the capper, the make- 
believe mark, in this picayune sting. I had 
given him a roll of small counterfeit bills to 
bet with, and I had kept another small roll 
of counterfeits in my vest pocket from which 
I'd pay him his supposed winnings. (I didn't 
mistrust Comae; it's just that I can't manip- 
ulate the cards to lose when I see real 
money bet. My fingers go on strike.) 

I set up my trusty folding table and be- 
gan to show ihe rubes how easy it was for 
them to guess which facedown card was 
the jack of hearts. These hardworking pas- 
toral folk quickly gathered in a thick semi- 

circle and began to nudge and tease each 
other into betting — just what I like to see. 

Well, it was right then and there that 
Comae ought to have clodhoppered up 
and called the turn on the jack for a few 
fives and tens, just to get these assembled 
day-shift software workers started. But . . . 
no Comae. It was weird: I'd seen him two 
or three times while doing my warm-up 
spiel, walking about aimlessly and looking 
at the sideshow pictures with half a pound 
of popcorn in his mouth and a cold beer in 
his hand, but he'd never come within a 
hundred feet of my operation. 

The crowd was moderately enthusiastic; 
but as I hope to have made clear, trying to 
make money off three-card without a shill 
on your payroll is like fishing without bait. 
So I closed down the game with only forty- 
two IPDson the black side of the ledger — 
enough for a carton of cigarettes and a 
week's worth of chiliburgers — when I'd 
hoped to make at least four hundred. 

I sauntered on home around 11:30 or so, 
poured myself a worried nightcap, and 
turned in. I lay awake for five minutes or so 
while images of Comae drifted through my 
mind — images of a dumb Frank with a wad 
of counterfeit money in his pocket, drifting 
around in the ersatz sawdust amongst the 
particle compilers, endorphin parlors, and 
interactive holographic strip shows of what 
was possibly his first real circus. I vowed 
to give him a stern, fatherly lecture first thing 
in the morning. 

I was dreaming about Marilyn Monroe 
and Groucho Marx when I jerked straight 
up in bed at the sound of somebody's kid 
screeching and shrieking in ungodly fash- 
ion. II sounded like the colic to me, prob- 
ably the green-apple colic. I'd been through 
all that in my time. I thought, 111 wail the 
loudmouthed little bastard out. But two 
hours later he or she was still going strong. 
Infuriated, I called the desk. 

In my quietest, most reasonable, most 
upper-class voice, I complained. They said 
they'd send somebody up. The screaming 
continued. Fifteen minutes later there came 
a knock at the door. I got up, threw on my 
robe, and opened it. In a picture-perfect, 
little iridescent black suit, the night man- 
ager stood before me with his eyes rolled 
up to the heavens. He said nothing but 
made a palms-up gesture as he shrugged 
his shoulders and sort of semi-sighed. 

"Look, buddy," I said to him before he'd 
said a word to me, "I don't care what the 
damned brat's parents said. I want you to 
get back over there and tell 'em to cram a 
grapefruit in its mouth! Is that clear?" 

"Sir," said the night manager with a 
practiced, long-suffering air, "that is no 
child. It is the squealing of the pink pig that 
your friend Mr. Comae brought home to his 
room a couple of hours #go. And if you are 
uncle or .brother or second cousin to it, I 
would much appreciate your shutting up 
its mouth, sir, yourself, if you please." His 
eyes had become narrow slits of flame. He 
had pulled the curtain on his patience act. 

I mumbled embarrassed apologies while 
106 OMNI 

throwing on my clothes. In a minute I was 
in Comae's room. He was sitting in a huge 
walnut rpeking chair, and in his lap was a 
squealing, half-grown Hampshire hog with 
the smooth, translucent pinkness of the 
erstwhile piglet still upon him. Comae was 
attempting to feed him from a baby bot- 
tle — and, to all appearances, succeeding. 

'Jesus, Comae. ..." I was dumbstruck, 
but only just for a second there. Then I 
started in on him. He had not kept his word. 
He had caused me to waste time and lose 
money. He had kept me awake. He had 
embarrassed me with the night manager. 
But worst of all, he had backslid, going back 
into piggie During af'.cr intentionally lying 
to me about having had his porcine-spe- 
cific Fagin program erased. I said a lot of 
things. I was outraged. Morally outraged. 

The poor fucking Frank looked up at me 
with the eyes of a hound dog that's done 
wrong and knows it. "Please don't be too 
hard on me," he said in a choked voice. 
'And please give me another chance. It's 

before him in the dim light, 

I must have 
'looked like a farmer with a 

- wheelbarrow, with 
a pig on it that was tied down 

with somebody's 
lime-hued decorator sheets.^ 1 

true that the program was only partly 
erased, and it's true that the pig passion is 
still there on certain nights', particularly for 
the fat pink ones. I couldn't help takin' him. 
Pig stealing is all I was ever any good at. It 
was my goddamned identity. And it will be 
that way until I am gone into and depro- 
grammed and then truly reprogrammed. 
That's why I'm working for you — to get the 
money to make the dream of getting my- 
self AppleCored a reality." (AppleCore was 
the only true global deprogrammer in those 
days; at the center of things 
and just sort of reamed it all out.) 

Again fears crept into my eyes at the 
sentences coming from Comae's mouth. 
Who could not forgive him? Who could not 
give him another chance? Who could not 
act in "furtherance of his nearly impossible 

"He was hungry, that's all, "said Comae. 
"He'll go back to sleep now." And indeed: 
The little porker's eyes were shut, and he 
was launched on an ocean of sleep in the 
, protecting arms ofthe pigophiliacal Frank. 

Within five minutes, back in my own bed, 
I was launched on those same calm waters. 

I always get up early, no matter where I 

am, "and read the morning paper before 
having a big breakfast followed by five or 
six cups of coffee to accompany my ritual 
attack on the triple-crostic crossword puz- 
zle. And the first thing I saw in the next 
morning's Ptolemy Ptoday was a double- 
column, boldfaced ad right at the bottom 
center of the front page. Tt said: 

I will pay fifty thousand IPDs, no ques- 
tions asked, for the return of Count Zero 
Interrupt, the famous "Educated Pig from 
Paris," which strayed or was stolen from 
the sideshow tents ot the Ringling Brothers 
and Barnum & Bailey Circus last night. This 
animal is unique and irreplaceable. And I 
make special note of the fact that even 
though he is the most valuable animal in 
the known world, he is far too familiar to be 
fenced on any of the planets or moons. 
— Walter R. Brooks, Business Manager 

I folded the paper flat, put it into my 
pocket, threw down my napkin, and 
sprinted to Comae's room. He was up and 
dressed in a stylish, dark blue suit. He was 
feeding Count Zero Interrupt the rest of the 
milk and some Oreo cookies. 

"Well, well, good morning, all!" I said 
upon entering, in my heartiest and most 
amiable fashion. "So we are up, I see. And 
Piggie is having his breakfast." Comae 
looked at his shoes. I went over and held 
the Count's bottle for him, and I asked, 
"What are your, ah, intentions toward Pig- 
gie? Answer me that, Comae." 

The Frank's answer was quick and de- 
cisive. He'd been thinking on it. "I'm going 
to crate him up and shuttle-express him to 
my brother Claudius over on Brahe Bay. 
He'll be good company for my brother while 
I'm earning the money to enable us to live 
together as we did as little boys in the 
twentieth century on Earth." 

"He's a mighty fine pig, Comae," I said, 
scratching him on his tummy. 

"You called him a lot of names last night." 

"He looks a lot better to me this morn- 
ing," I said, "You know, t was raised on a 
farm, and I'm actually very fond of pigs." I 
smiled down at the Count and continued 
scratching as the Count smiled back. "Tell 
you what I'm going to do," I said. "I'm going 
to give you fifty IPDs for him." 

"I reckon I wouldn't want to sell this shoat, 
sir," Comae said quickly. "If it was any other 
one, I might." 

"Why not this one?" I asked, trying to re- 
main calm. I was suddenly terrified that he 
might be onto the Count's true value. 

Comae lit his first Pall Mall of the morn- 
ing and gazed at the pig's interested, up- 
turned face. "Because snatching him was 
the grandest achievement of my life — that's 
why\" His quiet voice trembled. "The truth 
is . . . there ain't a single other man that 
could have done it. If there's ever a miracle 
that allows me to have a fireside and little 
children, I'll sit there beside it and tell 'em 
how "their daddy toted off a prime pig in 
fronl of a whole circus full of people. And 
maybe my grandchildren, too! And they'll 


Exc. cond- 

SS\-Sii&r-\ Owner 
KJt. Switched «> 



keeps guys so dry, they just 

might switch, mid -stick. 

be proud o! me!" Comae turned and looked 
out his window onto the circus below, his 
glance alone implying the Lilliputian status 
he attributed to [he big-top workers and 
audiences so tar beneath him. His voice 
became tenser, more silvery. 

"There was two tents, see, one of 'em 
opening onto the other. I snuck in; and this 
plump, pink beauty was on a high plat- 
form, tied with a little red chain. There were 
lots of people around, and the fluorescent 
lights were bright enough lo blind you. The 
trick was to catch almost all of 'em with 
their eyes lookin' away from the pig and. 
most importantly, to appear to be an offi- 
cial personage. I just reached up, un- 
hooked his chain, and hustled him the hell 
out of there! And I crawled out from under 
the canvas again without him squeakin' as 
much as a mouse. I put him under my coat, 
and I must have passed five hundred peo- 
ple before I got out where the streets were 
dark enough to relax even a millimeter. I 
reckon I wouldn't sell him. I'd want my 
brother to have him so there'd be a wit- 
ness. You can understand that, can't you?" 

This time I successfully fought back any 
sign of a tear— admittedly with a good 
amount of effort. "Comae, I'm going to give 
it to you straight," I said. "That pig can't 
possibly live long enough to use as. an ex- 
hibit in this fucking fireside frieze of your 
distant senility. Your grandchildren will sim- 
ply have to take your word for it. If you were 

your own grandcnild. woUd vcu take vol" 
word for a story like that? Huh? I'll give you 
a hundred IPDs." 

Comae looked at me in astonishment. 

"C'mon, this pig can't be worth anything 
like that to you, mister," he said. "What do 
you want him for?" He scratched his head 
in puzzlement. 

"If a man were" to view me cynically," I 
said, looking out the window that Comae 
himself had vacated, "he wouldn't think that 
I am possessed ot an artistic tempera- 
ment. But I am. I'm a collector, a connois- 
seur, Comae— and, believe it or not, par- 
ticularly of pure-blooded pigs. Over on 
Green Ball, I've got a hog ranch that con- 
tains almost every extant specimen — from 
a Malaysian Mordred to a purple-and-black 
Tasmanian Six-Stripe. This is a blooded pig 
and a fine one. That's why I'd love to have 
it." The perspiration had broken out on my 
forehead, and my mouth was as dry as a 
hanging judge's wit. 

Comae thought on it. "I'd really like to 
accommodate you," he said, "but I think 
I've got the artistic temperament, too, I may 
or may riot 'be a connoisseur or collector, 
but I don't see why it ain't art when you can 
. steal a pig better thar snyocdy else on five 
fucking planets. Shoats are a kind of in- 
spiration and genius with me, and espe- 
cially this one. I don't think I'd take a thou- 
sand IPDs for that animal." He stubbed oul 
his cigarette in the hotel ashtray, gazed al 

me. and shrugged helplessly. 

"Listen to me, Comae," I said, wiping off 
my brow with the soft maroon hotel towel 
from the Frank's bathroom. "It's not so much 
a business matter with me as it truly is art, 
honest to God — the highest art of basic 
philanthropical altruism. Being the con- 
noisseur of pigs that I am, I wouldn't feel 
that I'd done my duty to the WORLD unless 
I added that Hampshire to my collection 
and saw to it that his genes, were passed 
on. In the spirit of the ethic of pigs as 
peaceful and beneficent befrienders of 
man, I offer you two thousand IPDs." 

"Mister," said this fellow pork aesthete, 
."ft ain't the money, It's the sentiment with 
me. And yes, damn it, tite sentimentality 1 ." 
He shook his head and stared at the floor. 

"Five thousand!" I croaked. 

"Make it fifteen thousand." Comae said 
with a choked-back sob, "and I guess I 
can put this-particular dream behind me. 
In service to the other one! The main one!" 

For fifteen thousand IPDs you could have 
bought a small, private interplanetary 
shuttle in those days— and a loaded one 
at that, not some stripped-down piece of 
crap. But it was still a good deal for me, so 
1 I took it. "Done!" I said, 

I gave Comae my American Express 
card, and he called them to verify my credit. 
(I barely did have it, but they merely said a 
smooth "Certainly, sir" to Comae's query, It 
was a sizable sum: my life savings.)" He 


Your great-grandchildren may live 

twice as long as you do, says 

this eminent longevity researcher. You 

don't have to rebuild the 

body or redesign the brain. The secret 

is just to retune a few key genes 


Stringy gray hair, long on one side, covers the expanse 
of his scalp. His face is lined, his hands 'rough-hewn. 
His kids, almost grown, just wear him thin. "They mostly 
need money," he says of the two at expensive universities. "The 
days when I could play with them, nurture them, teach (hem are 
gone." Richard Cutler, age fifty, is prey to the inexorable passage 
of time. But like a cancer researcher who charts (he course of his 
own malignancy, Cutler, pioneer in the- field of human longevity, 
is cursed with the knowledge of truth. His diminishing strength: 
the unrelenting onslaught. ot oxygen, hormones, and nutrients. 
His loss of zest: molecules of herr.oc obin pulsing ever outward 
from deregulated neurons in his brain. "I can see the process of 
aging,'.' Cutler says. "I can see it all coming on," 

Cutler' accepts the certainty of ■his own short life and ultimate 
death. But, declares this preeminent advocate of scientific life 


extension, "there's not one shred of evidence for any bottleneck 
on the evolution of human longevity. How can we keep building 
new and wonderful machines while we've stayed the same for a 
hundred thousand years? Our first priority must be to control 
man's aging process, and from that all other things will flow." 

Cutler's dream of longevity flowed from the lonely Colorado 
town that was his childhood home. Born a Mormon among Mor- 
mons, he was brought up to think of life as a lesling ground for 
the reward of heaven beyond. "The Devil was always here tempt- . 
ing you," he explains. "For that reason your best bet was nor to 
stick around too long." Cutler had his doubts, of course, but as 
a boy whom parents and teachers had pigeonholed as intellec- 
tually slow, he didn't feel equipped to protest. 

Cutler, still a teenager, was catapulted out of the oppressive 
dominion of his past by an unbelievable, explosive series of 

events. One minute he was a backwoods 
boy on his way to vocational school; the 
next, the brilliant, quirky Cutler found him- 
self head of a corporation funded by one 
g: mil 

lionaire sent him through school, "it was 
really wild," Cutler reflects. 'Almost like 
coming out of a cave." 

Cutler eventually found his way to grad- 
uate school in biophysics at the University 
of Houston and to prestigious posts at the 
Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long 
Island and the University of Texas at Dal- 
las. All the while, he pursued the question 
thai -had gnawed at him ever since his 
youth: Why do we have to age and die, and 
what could be done? 
. -Approaching the problem with his broad 
and eclectic intelligence, Cutler scruti- 
nized anthropology, evolution, compara- 
tive physiology, molecular biology, and 
more. And in the interstices of the disci- 
plines, buried in data from thousands of 
reports, he saw the pattern: No more than 
six tenths of a percent of all human genes 
could possibly be involved in the evolution 
of longevity. Aging — the field that seemed 
to require a complete understanding of 
every organ, system, and cell lype in the 
human body — might be reduced io com- 
mon denominators. And those denomina- 
tors might be comprehended, harnessed, 
and even changed. Human longevity might 
be extended not just by 20 years, Cutler 
declared, but by 200 years or more. 

Cutler's radical theories have thrust him 
into the biomedical spotlight, bringing both 
songs of praise and scathing attack. Al- 
though his theories derive from tight, de- 
ductive reasoning, they're just too uncon- 
ventional for many mainstream scientists. 
Many of his colleagues in gerontology, al- 
ready troubled by the economic burden of 
the infirm aged, are philosophically op- 
posed to his work. He has been accused 
of plagiarism. And his two most loyal ben- 
efactors have recently been forced to limit 
their support. To make up for the loss, his 
medical technician wife. Edith, works in his 
lab gratis from ten in the morning to four in 
the afternoon. (Then she goes to her job 
as a paid lab technician from 4:30 to mid- 
night.) "I sometimes fee! bad that my wife 
still has to come in and help me," Cutler 
declares. "Her presence reminds me that 
I'm struggling. She's there to save the day. 
Without her I simply couldn't go on." 

Despite his troubles Richard Cutler has 
prevailed. He has secured a tenured po- 
sition at Baltimore's prestigious Gerontol- 
ogy Research Center, part of the National 
Institute on Aging. And though his support 
has been limited, he has conceived per- 
haps the most sweeping theory of human 
longevity to date. His elegant ideas, rooted 
in the ancient axioms of evolution and the 
driving logic of DNA, may one day yield up 
the reward of prolonged life. They may aiso 
point the way toward vast increases in in- 
telligence and creativity, ultimately aiding 
the future evolution of man. Richard Culler 
was interviewed in his office and over lunch 

f 10 OMNI 

at Baltimore's quaint European Cafe by 
Omni senior editor Pamela Weintraub. 

Omni: What initially lured" you into life ex- 
tension research? 

Cutler: Disappointment with religion. The 
first thing I learned was how lucky I was — 
a white male in the right church in the USA. 
All I had to do was work hard, follow the 
rules, and heavenly immortality would be 
my reward. I was uneasy about that point 
of view from the start, but I went along. 

In high school my family moved to Ana- 
heim, California. I wasn't considered too 
bright. After I took an aptitude test, my 
guidance counselor suggested I forget 
college and go to vocational school for 
welding. As a senior I found my way to the 
machine shop and constructed a helicop- 
ter of unusual design, with engines in the 
tips of the blades. I flew it in my backyard 
and created quite a ruckus. There was a 
lot of noise and wind, and with fire stream- 
ing out of the top, people thought there was 

^Some of our 
greatest scientists and 

musicians were 

exceptionally neotenous. 

People don't 

realize that being like 

a child is 

what made them great 3 

an explosion. Police and newspapers ar- 
rived, and a reporter wrote a long story 
about me in the Sunday edition of the Santa 
Ana Bulletin. He took me under his wing, 
and I ended up at a two-year college — the 
Electronic Engineering Institute in Engle- 
wood, California. I met some people there 
belonging to the Los Angeles Philosophi- 
cal Society and began to think about 
things — psychokinesis, levitation, UFOs. I 
was just nineteen years old, and after my 
Mormon upbringing this was like coming 
out of a cave I began to question the no- 
tion of immortality and realized, in the face 
of aging and death, just about every reli- 
gion offered hope of salvation in a world 
beyond. It just seemed like a cop-ouf. I 
even went to UCLA and asked some pro- 
fessors what we could do to increase our 
life span, and they said, "Nothing at all. 
The aging process is too complex." That's 
when I decided increasing longevity was 
something I'd like to attempt. 
Omni: What was your plan? 
Cutler: About that time the accountant at 
the electronics institute saw the article in 
the Santa Aria Bulletin. He put together a 
group of four millionaires and convinced 

each to invest about a quarter of a million 
dollars in what we called the Cutler Heli- 
copter Corporation. The idea was that I 
would design a light, cheap craft afford- 
able to the masses. I had several machin- 
ists and welders in a building in Pasadena 
helping to make the helicopters. Once I 
made my millions, I planned to set up my 
own laboratory and do aging research. The 
whole thing was crazy. My parents thought 
it was totally wild, and in fact I was lucky to 
escape with my life. The first time we tested 
our engine at the Van Nuys Airport, it blew 
completely apart. First it tore up the test 
stand, then it flew off altogether, wiping out 
several large airplanes. I had constructed 
a tower from which I conducted the exper- 
iment — that collapsed, too. I was left dan- 
gling by my arms. We were insured by 
Lloyd's of London, thank heavens. 
Omni: Were your backers upset? 
Cutler: No, they were delighted. The ex- 
periment proved that the engine was really 
powerful. The work went on until eventually 
I was contacted by another millionaire who 
had also read the article in the Santa Ana 
Bulletin. This man had made his fortune in 
hydraulic valves, and had recently lost his 
son in the Korean War, so he set up a foun- 
dation in his honor. After questioning me 
for about half an hour, he told me he'd help 
me through college. I walked out with a five- 
thousand-dollar check. Though I never saw 
him again, he sent me several thousand 
dollars a year for five years, until my un- 
dergraduate education — I majored in 
physics — was complete. 
Omni: How did you switch from physics 
and helicopters to longevity? 
Cutler: The helicopter company folded, and 
I began scouring the country for a place to 
pursue my true interest, longevity. Finally I 
found a program in biophysics at the Uni- 
versity of Houston. It was a totally new field 
with two main goals: to reveal the impact 
of physical phenomena such as light or X 
rays on organisms and cells; and to ex- 
plain complex living systems through basic 
forces or laws, much as physicists try to 
explain the universe. Biologists told me that 
aging was too incredibly complex to ever 
understand. You'd first have to understand 
every system in the body — heart, lung, 
skin, brain — and then alter each one. I 
wanted to find some underlying principle 
that might control aging no matter what the 
animal, organ, or cell. The time was ripe — 
Watson and Crick had just discovered the 
underlying mechanism for heredity in the 
structure of DNA. So I took off for Houston 
in my little hot-rod car. For the first time in 
my life I was heading far from home. 
Omni: What did you do there? 
Cutler; I found a way to make all the cells 
in a single bacterial culture divide at once 
so that they passed through all the stages 
of life literally in synchrony This study made 
it possible to map the bacterial genome. 
But none of it would have happened if I 
hadn't been taking organic chemistry at 
night with this girl named Edith. I'd rarely 
been out with girls. Always helicopters, you 

know. But now I was kind of lonely, and this 
girl looked nice, so I asked her out to see 
Wes; Side Story. As it turned out, she was 
also real good in chemistry. She turned out 
to be a medical technologist and a superb 
bacteria counter. She could just look at cells 
and tell me what they were like! I'm half 
blind, so I could hardly see the cells, but 
with her expertise, she just executed the 
bacteria-culture concept I'd come up with, 
and it worked. We got married three months 
after that first date, and she's been helping 
me ever since. 

On the basis of that work and many let- 
ters, I finally got a fellowship with Howard 
Curtis of Brookhaven National Laboratory. 
Curtis was the only American studying ag- 
ing from a molecular perspective. He gave 
me my own lab and assistant — I was in 
heaven. I decided to devote myself to de- 
termining how complex the biology of ag- 
ing really was. If it was too complex to un- 
ravel within the context of twentieth-century 
science, I would leave the field. But if I could 
find some indication that understanding — 
and perhaps slowing — the aging process 
was possible with current knowledge, I 
would devote my life to Ihe quest. 
Omni: How did you proceed? 
Cutler: Curtis showed that as animals age, 
their chromosomes acquire aberrations. So 
he postulated that with increasing age DNA 
accumulates mutations that destroy the 
basic information used to run a cell. That 
leads to aging. Being right there, I picked 

up something about his work that most 
everybody missed. He experimented on 
three species: Ihe beagle, with a life span 
of about twenty years; the guinea pig, with 
a life span of eight years; and the mouse, 
with a life span of three years. He found 
that the rate of chromosomal aberration 
correlated well with the aging rate. Longer- 
lived species acquired mufations at a 
slower rate. Thus longevity appeared to-be 
regulated by factors within the cells. Be- 
cause the cells making up dog, guinea pig, 
and mouse are extraordinarily similar, this 
suggested that the cellular differences 
contributing to longevity must be simple, 
despite the complexity of the aging proc- 
ess itself. 

Omni: Did you see any other evidence for 
the theory that relatively simple factors were 
contributing to longevity? 
Cutler: What struck me most was that the 
increase in longevity across species 
seemed to be accompanied by increases 
in intelligence. Humans, for inslance, have 
a particularly long life span. In the wake of 
that observation, I came across George 
Sacher's work. A radiation biologist at Ar- 
gonne National Laboratory, Sacher had 
dedicaled much of his life to understand- 
ing the biology of longevity. He realized that 
the larger the brain-to-body-size ratio, the 
slower a species will age. Sacher even 
came up with a formula relating maximum 
life span potential [MLSP] — the maximum 
number 'of years that an individual of any 




given species could possibly live — to brain 
size and body weigh!. Just knowing the 
brain and body sizes of any mammal would 
enable you to plug into the formula and 
crank out the MLSP 

Omni: Did he explain the phenomenon? 
Cutler; Because shorter- and longer-lived 
species had essentially the same cell bi- 
ology, Sacher decided longevity-control 
mechanisms had to reside in the brain. 
Bigger brains, with their superior process- 
ing, could better maintain the body. He 
even tried to find a longevity- controlling 
center in the brain but never did. 
Omni: Where did you fit in? 
Cutler: I reinterpreted his results. Even 
though different species had essentially the 
same biology, I nonetheless thought that 
basic biology, not brain size, had the pri- 
mary role. The correlation between brain 
size and longevity, I said, was there by vir- 
tue of evolution, If larger-brained mam- 
mals have longer life spans, it's because a 
longer life span confers an evolutionary 
advantage to those with sizable brains. Life 
span and brain size coevolved. 
Omni: If the brain doesn't control longevity, 
what does? ■ 

Cutler: I found part of the answer in studies 
on speciation — the mechanism by which 
different species form. One of Ihe first 
things scientists studying speciation did 
was compare primates that had all pre- 
sumably evolved from a single ancestor 
aboul sixty-five million years ago. They 
found extraordinary similarities from one 
group to the next. When researchers com- 
pared humans, with an MLSP of one hun- 
dred years, to chimpanzees, with an MLSP 
of fifty years, they found that ninety-nine 
percent of the genes were same. Chimp 
and human livers worked the same. Food 
and energy metabolism was similar. 
Studying the two species, from the skele- 
ton to the muscles to Ihe cells, there are no 
new structures. So what the heck was the 
difference? Structures and functions are 
just ditlerentiated to different degrees. From 
species to species some genes are ex- 
pressed more sfrongly than others. And that 
difference in expression is all you need to 
create new species. Evolutionary biolo- 
gists went on to estimate that the one per- 
cent genetic difference between human 
and chimp resided in regulatory genes — 
genes that act like switches to turn other 
genes on and otf. My concept was that 
slowing the aging process might be ac- 
complished by altering these few genes. 
Omni: Armed with evidence that altering 
life span might not be that complex, you 
plunged into the longevity field. 
Cutler: Yes, and I still burn with excitement 
when I think of how it all came together for 
me. I'd gotten a job at the University of 
Texas at Dallas. Edith and I already had 
three kids— one right after another. I had 
a little Datsun 240 Z, and one day I piled 
my kids in the back and took off into the 
desert lor Anaheim. Every so often I'd stop 
and write down notes, until I had road maps 
covered with scribbles. One thing made 



tf"fci%i gjB%yMI mom jng paper . 

ft. 11 ml lft_«C Darwin 

Wl mt ■^MPbH COR Life Exter 

■.^■^■■■wjk ' Mf^ Fullerton, Califo 

J ■■■'." M^k.ww 1 icisl, someone v 

■■k TF I I can'be frozen 

V_J| 1 V J though not trai 


restored to its original condition, a 
new body would be cloned from a 
single cell. Voila! One day. the pa- 
tient blinks, sits up. 



cover slowly. He holds a trouble light 

of vapor swirling around him to 
, then peers inside. The liquid 
nitrogen — at a temperature of 
-196"C — looks like crystal-clear 
On the bottom oi a stainless- 
; inside the vault are live 


in a polyester-blend pillc 

After a long silence Darwin , 
"I get the same kind of feeling when 
I look into a hospital room at 
one I love. With years of re! 
and work ahead of me I try not to 
get emotional; yet I never lose the 
feeling that these people are on 

fical toots the 
of molecules into one of the 


10 ine small number of people 
willing to pay up to $100,000 to 
freeze their bodies ($30,000 for just 
the head), cryonicists are the link 
to immortality. But to most cryo- 
biologists — scientists who study r'~ 
at low temperatures — cryonici: 
are targets of criticism and de 
sion. Some allege the whole field 
fraudulent; others view cryonicts 

4/ don't think that even the most die-hard 

critic of cryonics among us would claim that suspended animation 

will never be possible3 

New York Blood Cen- 
ter and former presi- 
dent of the Society for 
Cryobiology. says, 
"Many of our mem- 
bers take a dim view 
ofsome ol the people 
in cryonics coming to 
our meetings and en- 
croaching on our 
good image in an at- 
tempt to legitimize 
their activities. To us 
they represent a fringe 

Rowe challenges 
the cryonicJsis' notion 
that those already fro- 
zen will one day be 
thawed to live again. 
"I think all the people 
who have been frozen 
so far have had such 
irreparable damage 
[from the freezing 
process] that there is 
no scientific evidence 
that it would ever be 
possible to reanimate 
them. "Still, thedream 
of cheating death is a 
seductive one, and 
cryobiologists in their 
own deliberate, quiet 
way have been inch- 
ing slowly toward the 
time when preserving 
the whole person may 
be possible. 

Not too long ago a 
group of cryobiolo- 
gists crammed to- 
gether in a small con- 
ference room at the Hilton Hotel in Augusta, 
Georgia, for their annual meeting. Particu- 
larly popular was one session on organ 
preservation moderated by a sott-spoken, 
personable biologist named Gregory Fahy. 
Near the end of the session he asked an- 
other researcher to provide some "com- 
mentary." The house lights darkened, and 
Ihe screen lit up with what looked like a 
standard projection graph, it plotted the 
success cryobiologists have had preserv- 
ing human tissue over the years: sperm and 
red blood cells in the Fifties, embryos in 
the Sixties, and corneas in the Eighties. 'At 

the present rate we will have to wait until 
the year 2040 before we are preserving 
kidneys and hearts," he announced. 'And 
beyond that — to the year 2060 — for bod- 
ies." The audience laughed. 

Fahy said later that the slide was meant 
to be an insiders' joke but one that con- 
tained a kerne! of truth. "I don't think that 
even the most die-hard critic of cryonics 
among us would claim that suspended an- 
imation will never be possible." he says. In 
fact, the head of his laboratory — an out- 
spoken critic of cryonics — once stated that 
achieving suspended animation was the 
ultimate goal of cryobiology. 

"It's obvious that as we succeed in pre- 
serving more and more complicated sys- 

tems, we will keep 
working our way up 
and up until the final 
thing we'd be able lo 
do is preserve human 
beings," Fahy adds. 
"What would be hotly 
debated, of course, is 
whether we think it's 

The art and sci- 
ence of freezing body 
parts are still in their 
infancy, though they 
have progressed tre- 
mendously over the 
past two decades. 
Tissue banks now 
routinely freeze blood 
cells, arteries, heart 
valves, skin, bones, 
sperm, and even em- 
bryos. Typically, the 
tissue is first im- 
mersed in a solution, 
which often contains 
glycerol and other 
agents that protect it 
from damage sus- 
tained during the 
freezing process. The 
tissue is then cooled 
at a controlled rate to 
the temperature of liq- 
uid nitrogen, where 
molecular activity — 
and hence biological 
activity — halts. With its 
aging clock stopped, 
the tissue can stay vi- 
able for millennia. 

Freezing these tis- 
sue samples is pri- 
marily the realm of cryobiologists who have 
a dream of their own: that one day a sur- 
geon could phone a tissue bank and order 
up a frozen heart, liver, or kidney or a finger 
or arm for one of his patients. With this re- 
source and new antirejection techniques, 
he could perform transplants at will. 

Tissue that has been successfully fro- 
zen can be kept, if not forever, for dec- 
ades. Arthur Rowe knows of tissue-culture 
cells stilt viable 22 years after being deep- 
frozen. He himself has used blood that 
spent 16 years on ice. 

"If you don't see any changes in sixteen 
years, I wouldn't expect to see any changes 
in double or triple that time," he says. 'Ap- 
parently it's good indefinitely." 





to revert to youth. If those old cells were 
damaged in numerous ways, he asked 
himself, how could a single virus restore 
them to vitality? It just couldn't. "I began to 
think," Lumpkin says, "that the virus simply 
repressed a protein that shut down the cell." 

Then, in the early Seventies, Lumpkin 
discovered a paper by pathologists Tom 
Norwood and George Martin of the Uni- 
versity ot Washington in Seattle. The Se- 
attle scientists took young and old cells and 
/used them to produce a cell hybrid — a 
single cell body with two nuclei in the cen- 
ter. (The cell nucleus contains the genetic 
material, the DNA.) In that single cell, nei- 
ther the old nucleus nor the young nucleus 
was able to synthesize DNA. In other words, 
the fused cell tooK on the characteristics 
of the old cell. The implication: The old nu- 
cleus produced a protein that shut down 
its own replicative machinery and then 
traveled through the cell body to squelch 
the young nucleus as well. 

Lumpkin was so impressed by the work 
that he went to Seattle to study with Martin. 
And it wasn't long betore he'd used Mar- 
tin's findings to help develop a potent the- 
ory of his own. Working with molecular bi- 
ologist Jim Smith, Lumpkin proposed the 
existence ol one or more cell proteins that 
turned DNA synthesis off. 

Last year the two tested their notion in 
the lab. In essence they extracted genetic 
material from old cells, divided that mate- 
rial into segments, and injected each seg- 
ment into a different young cell. Time after 
time, a specific bit of material from the old 
cell made the young cell age as well. 

The present goal is to isolate and clone 
this genetic material— apparently the gene 
that codes for the senescence protein. 
Once the-gene is found, Lumpkin says, we 
can find ways to turn it off. One suggestion 
might be a vaccine that instructs the body 
to produce antibodies against the protein. 
Another solution would be to override the 
protein with another natural substance — 
one that turns the cells on. 

That may soon be possible, thanks to 
biochemist Vincent Cristofalo of the Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania and the Wistar In- 
stitute in Philadelphia. Cristofalo and his 
group have found proteins in the mem- 
brane that revive senescent cells. "There's 
a definite relationship," Cristofalo says, 
"between the balance of cell proteins and 
the rate at which organisms age." 

As we get older, he explains, the pro- 
teins that prevent DNA synthesis become 
increasingly common in a larger propor- 
tion of our cells. As a result cells become 
less able to respond. Muscles, for in- 
stance, contract more slowly. And the cell 
receptors, which normally act as portals 
for everything from energy molecules to 
growth hormones, don't always recognize 
the substances they were designed to 
process and absorb. Without growth hor- 

126 OMNI 

mones, for example, wounds won't heal. 
And without sufficient energy the body can't 
function at all. 

There's a strong correlation, Lumpkin 
says, between the life span of cells and the 
life span of the organism. "On the most 
basic level," he says, "the eighty-year-old 
would be able to heal his wounds as easily 
as if he were fifteen. Theoretically speak- 
ing, if we were to suppress the protein that 
inhibits DNA synthesis, our cells should be 
rendered immortal. " 

If all the body's organs, including the 
kidney and the liver, age in analogous ways, 
he adds, we might be able to surpass the 
current limit of one hundred and fifteen 
years in a sexually mature but youthful state, 
our bodies tight and our minds alert. "Once 
we understand the cellular pathways," 
Lumpkin says, "we might even be able to 
live three or four hundred years and keep 
on going from there." 

Listening to the findings, gerontologist 
Richard Cutler of Baltimore's Gerontology 

47/ie untreated 
mice seemed old. Their coats 

were coarse and 
■ gray. The DHEA mice ran 

around like pups. 
Their coats were sleek and 

black. They 
were aging at a slower rate.^ 

Research Center suggested that the on/off 
proteins found by Smith, Lumpkin, and 
Cristofalo were the very substances re- 
sponsible for extending the lives of lab mice 
placed on restricted diets. Mulling it over 
while in a canoe on Plymouth's placid Lake 
Squam, Cutler was reminded of a well- 
understood phenomenon known as heat 
shock response. "When heat becomes 
particularly intense, neurotransmitters in the 
brain stimulate a set of genes to produce 
a protective protein," he explains. "The 
protein literally .cools the animal down, 
eliminating undue stress." 

Dietary restriction might work the same 
way. When the food supply is low, he notes, 
adult animals can't sustain a fetus or care 
for their young. In the face of this threat a 
hormone like the one suggested by Ma- 
soro probably switches on a special gene. 
The gene, in turn.- probably generates the 
senescence protein found by Lumpkin and 
Smith. Under normal circumstances that 
protein would be produced only by very 
old cells, to trigger death. But in times of 
famine they might be switched on tempo- 
rarily, delaying development— and the 
years of reproductive viability — until such 

time as nutrients would again abound. 
When food becomes plentiful, the protein 
found by Cristofalo comes into play. "Once 
we isolate the neurotransmitter or the pro- 
teins," says Cutler, "we might use them to 
enjoy the same antiaging benefits of diet 
restriction we see in the mouse." 

A serum that inhibits the senescence 
protein might drastically increase the lon- 
gevity of our cells, conferring infinitely more 
staying power on our organs and the body 
as a whole. But according to Cutler, the 
technique will add decades to life only if 
supplemented by a third sort of potion — 
one that prevents genetic damage caused 
by metabolism, environmental toxins, and 
the sun. 

In the forefront of that research is the 
short, stiletto-thin Bruce Ames. A bio- 
chemist at the University of California at 
Berkeley, Ames is the controversial re- 
searcher who first declared that small 
amounts of man-made chemicals cause 
cancer by creating mutations in our genes. 

In 1984, just as people were embracing 
the notion that cancer is caused by the tox- 
ins of our industrialized world, Ames came 
out with an even more radical sentiment. 
True, man-made chemicals are carcino- 
genic, he said. But most cancer-causing 
mutations come from the very food that we 
eat and the air that we breathe. Living is 
like being irradiated, he explained. Many 
fruits and vegetables produce natural 
pesticides that are as mutagenic as man- 
made ones. And the oxygen molecules we 
breathe tend to turn into highly reactive free 
radicals — particles that scavenge the 
body, voraciously consuming bits of DNA 
and damaging the cells. 

As far as Ames was concerned, these 
same forces were responsible for aging. 
The genetic damage they caused was fairly 
constant throughout life, he theorized. Al- 
though DNA was always repairing itself, 
eventually the mutations would mount, re- 
sulting in aging and death. 

He found support for his ideas in evolu- 
tion itself. Indeed, as we evolved from our 
early primate ancestors to Homo sapiens, 
over a period of millions of years, our life 
span basically doubled while our meta- 
bolic rate was cut in half. "Perhaps we lived 
twice as Jong," Ames suggests, "because 
we were producing free radicals and other 
natural toxins at half the rate." 

Ames was also aware of new research 
showing we could protect ourselves 
against the oxygen scavengers, at least to 
a degree, with another sort of natural sub- 
stance — the an [/oxidants. This group — in- 
cluding vitamin E, selenium, beta carotene 
(which provides carrots with their orange 
color], and superoxide dismutase — liter- 
ally neutralized the free radicals before they 
had a chance to destroy DNA. "A major 
factor in the evolution of increasing life 
span," Ames adds, "might well be an in- 
crease in the presence of these protective 
mechanisms against free radicals." 

Fascinated by this theory. Ames even 
discovered another, unlikely antioxidant — 

uric acid, long considered nothing but a 
waste product. "I realized thai at the be- 
ginning of primate evolution, we'd lost the 
enzyme that breaks down uric acid. What's 
more, the kidneys pump ninety-five per- 
cent ot all uric acid back into our blood," 
he says. Thus unlike mice and rats, we have 
high levels of uric acid circulating through- 
out our bodies. 

If antioxidants like uric acid and super- 
oxide dismutase propelled the evolution of 
human longevity, then it only makes sense 
that raising their levels would extend life 
span even further. The problem with taking 
such supplements in pill form, however, is 
that increasing one antioxidant reduces Ihe 
levels ol all other antioxidants — unless the 
total antioxidant load is especially low. 

If that load is low, DNA damage mighl 
pile up more rapidly than normal, and life 
span would be short. But if we could 
somehow detect that damage early in life, 
we would be able to increase antioxidant 
protection. DNA damage would be limited, 
and the potential for a normal life span 
would be restored. 

Already Richard Cutler (see Interview, 
beginning on page 108) is developing a 
longevity kit to do just that. First he screens 
patients for high levels of thymidine glycol, 
a by-product of damaged DNA. "If some- 
one excretes excessive amounts of thymi- 
dine glycol in the urine." Cutler says, "it's 
probable that free-radical damage is 
high — and that the antioxidant level is low. 
We'll keep adding different antioxidant 
supplements and retesting the urine for 
thymidine glycol. When the right combi- 
nation of supplements has been found, 
thymidine glycol should be reduced to 
normal. Then we'll know that the aging is 
as low as possible and that antioxidant 
protection is prime." 

Cutler, who takes supplements of beta 
carotene and vitamin E himself, says that 
his current technique may help those who 
now age abnormally quickly. But for the rest 
of us other tactics may be suitable. "What 
we've got to do is understand how evolu- 
tion increased our antioxidant level, then 
use the same technique ourselves." 

One of evolution's tricks may have been 
convincing the cells that extreme genetic 
damage had occurred. He explains: "When 
you exercise, you burn more oxygen, pro- 
duce more free radicals, and also gener- 
ate more antioxidant protection. It you could 
trick the cells into thinking that exercise or 
its equivalent was taking place when it 
wasn't, then you might increase the antiox- 
idant levels while free-radical damage 
stayed the same." 

Cutler is currently working on two ways 
to trick the cells so that excess antioxidant 
production occurs. In one experiment he's 
simply injecting mice with thymidine di- 
mers. chemical by-products of damaged 
DNA. In another he's injecting them with 
cyclic GMP, a messenger chemical pro- 
duced whenever free-radical damage has 
occurred. So far, he says, the cyclic GMP 
and the dimers seem to be ringing the 

128 OMNI 

alarm: Treated mice are more resistant to 
radiation. The extra protection, he adds, 
can be easily explained if we assume that 
excess antioxidants are produced. 

If that turns out to be the case, Cutler 
says, then such supplements as thymidine 
dimers or cyclic GMP might eventually in- 
crease our protection against Iree radi- 
cals, expanding our maximum life span as 
much as a decade or two. But in the dis- 
tant future there will be a far more powerful 
way of fighting off DNA damage — increas- 
ing the amount of enzyme available to lit- 
erally repair our genes. Working on this 
technique is cell biologist and paramecia 
expert Joan Smith-Sonneborn of the Uni- 
versity of Wyoming at Laramie. Someday, 
Smith-Sonneborn believes, "we'll be able 
to identify and clone the genes that make 
the dilferenl repair enzymes and transfer 
them into our cells." 

Right now Smith-Sonneborn is attempt- 
ing just that with her paramecia. She's 
chopping the paramecia's genome into 

once we suppress the protein 

that Inhibits DNA 
synthesis our cells should be 

rendered immortal. 
If we understood the cellular 

pathways, we might be 
able to live 300 or 400 years3 

sections and matching each section with 
a known repair gene from yeast. When she 
gets a match she'll know that ihe parame- 
cia's repair gene has been found. Then 
she'll transfer cloned versions of the gene 
into the paramecia cells. "It the repair genes 
do what we think they should," she says. 
"the life span of the paramecia will in- 
crease." We might then use the same tech- 
nique to create a gene-repair formula lor 
consumption by man. 

Yet another formula might pry open our 
genes, Smith-Sonneborn believes. DNA, 
she explains, is tightly coiled. If we could 
relax Ihe coils, the genes would open up, 
and we'd get in more repair enzyme. 

One of the most important benefits, 
Smith-Sonneborn predicts, would be a 
boost -for our immune system: Recent ex- 
periments lead her to suggest that some 
DNA-repair enzymes and the antibody- 
building enzymes may be one and the 
same. And, she adds, it's possible that an 
increase in these enzymes will offer a cos- 
metic advantage, too. 

"Skin is wrinkled by ultraviolet rays from 
the sun," she explains. "What those rays 
do is damage DNA. But repair enzymes 

mighl ti ; it occurs." 

Finally, Smith-Sonneborn's experiments 
indicate that stimulating DNA repair can 
boost the life span of single-celled para- 
mecia by 50 percent. "One thing's for sure. 
When we tap into the mechanism of DNA 
repair, we're tapping into a great many of 
ihe things that make us age," she says. "If 
we can increase repair, we'll help amelio- 
rate any pathology associated with dam- 
age to our genes." Our immune systems 
should produce more antibodies, and we 
should be less prone to cancer and infec- 
tious diseases. We'll reach old age later, 
and we might be able to greatly exceed 
the maximum human life span of one hun- 
dred and fifteen years. 

Many experts, of course, doubt ihat we'll 
be able to achieve drastic expansion of 
human life any time soon. Dr. Edward 
Schneider, deputy director of the National 
Institute on Aging, says, "I don't foresee a 
magic bullet, an antiaging pill that you could 
take to restore youlh. But I do predict lhat 
our increased knowledge about the aging 
of different organs will enable us to prevent 
various body functions from deteriorating. 
We might be able to restore immune func- 
tion, for insfance, and even prevent short- 
term memory loss. In the next decade or 
so, we might see average life span in- 
crease from seventy-five to about eighty- 
five years for men and ninety years for 
women. Perhaps in the next tew years 
someone will eventually live to be as old as 
one hundred and thirty. Barring some un- 
foreseen breakthrough, though, I don't think 
we'll see people living to one hundred fifty 
in the near future." 

But a lot of longevity researchers say 
Schneider may be erring on the side of 
caution. "There's no obvious bottleneck on 
the extension of life span, " Cutler declares. 
"Today it seems probable that aging is 
caused by hormones and other molecules 
lhat alter the activity ol genes. We should 
eventually be able to manipulate those 
hormones and molecules directly or 
through control sites in the brain. The result 
would be a slowing of the aging rate of vir- 
tually every organ and cell." 

The impact would be profound. Once we 
fine-tune our engines we'll spend more time 
in the flush and energy of youlh. Natural 
proteins will make us more vigorous. En- 
zyme supplement will restore smooth- 
ness to our skin and rigor to our bones. 
Hormone additives will add fight to our im- 
mune system, giving us powerful resist- 
ance to cancer, arthritis, lupus, and the ar- 
ray of infectious" diseases. Viruslike 
vaccines will literally alter our genes, sup- 
pressing the chemicals that once wore us 
down and made us old. 

After we extra:! the secret fuel of old Pop 
Adams and his hundred-year-old daddy, 
we'll fulfill the dreams of Ponce de Leon. In 
the twenty-first century the Fountain of 
Youth will be here. In one sense, Ponce de 
Leon was born 500 years before his time. 
But in another, the answers have always 
resided within him and us all. DO 

tit's only a 

matter of time before someone 

suggests that the 

F-111 crash was caused by the UFO. 91 

Films of UFOs in flight 
are rare. Rarer still ate 
those films that sur- 
vive technical scru- 
tiny, apparently pro- 
viding evidence of 
some unknown object 
in the sky. 

That's why the 20- 
second film made by 
British building sur- 
veyor Peter Day has 
achieved such celeb- 
rity status in the world 
of UFOs If was Janu* 
ary 11, 1973, at 9:10 
a.m., on the outskirts of 
the village of Cud- 
dington. when Day 
spotted an orange ball 
of light. He just hap- 
pened to have a super 
8 camera along in his 
car and filmed the 
pulsating object as it 
passed over some 
treetops about a 
quarter of a mile away (simulated version above, at right). 

It didn't take long for the film to come to the attention of 
the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA). The seg- 
ment, the group announced, was both "genuine and puz- 
zling." A later examination by UFO-photography specialist 
Peter Warrington, in conjunction with the Kodak-UK Labo- 
ratories at Hemel Hempstead, backed up the BUFORA con- 
clusion. "There has been no trickery," Warrington declared. 
And Peter Sutherst, technical- information consultant (or Ko- 
dak-UK. agreed. "Whatever the film shows," he said, "It is a 
real object In the sky." 

Just recently, though, BUFORA asked a team headed by 
ufologisf Ken Phillips to investigate the film again. The new 
finding: The ob|ect In the film was a U.S. Air Force F-111 jet 
presumably ablaze. The jet had taken off from nearby Upper 
Heyford Air Force Base, developed a malfunction, and cir- 
cled the area for 40 minutes to use up fuel, Before the pilot 
could make an emergency landing, though, the crew para- 


chuted to safety and 
thepfane crashed ma 
field The time and 
dateofthecrash. 9:46 
am. January 11, 1973- 
"The chances are 
against two highly un- 
usual but unrelated 
phenomena occur- 
ring in the same area 
at around the same 
lime," the team de- 
clared in an official 
written statement 
"The inevitable con- 
clusion Is that there 
was only one unusual 
phenomenon, namely 
the troubled F-111, and 
it was this which was 
observed and filmed 
by the witness." Adds 
team coordinator Phil- 
lips. "The conclusion 
seems hard to refute.'' 
Warrington doesn't 
accept that these investigators have a respectar;. 
he says. "But we studied the film under consider 
nlficatlon, and at no point was an aircraft de 

Day, who says he has filmed many an aircraft, is even less 
pleased with the BUFORA report "I would be quite happy 
if someone could tell me what I filmed that day 
"but I don't believe I filmed an aircraft A dozen other people, 
Including a schoolteacher and several schoolchildren, also 
saw the UFO. They were closer to the Object than I was, and 
their descriptions tally with what is on Ihe film " 

The controversy over the Day film will continue to rage, 
and it's only a matter of time before someone suggests that 
the F-111 crash was caused by the UFO. But to serious UFO 
investigators the concern is that yet another prime case has 
been thrown into doubt. The hunt is still on for a piece of film 
that defies rational solution. After nearly 40 years its failure 
to arrive of fers little solace lo those who champion the exist- 

Healing through prayer 
promise held out by many 
world religions Now a. col- 
lection of such wonders 
has been amassed by physi- 
cian Rex Gardner of Sunder- 
land Disirict Hospital In 
Great Britain 

Tne most notable of Gard- 
ner's seven reported cases 
concerns a parishioner in 
Monkwearmouth, England, 
who suffered from a large, ul 
cerated varicose vein in 
her leg. When she decided 
to ask her church to pray 

for her, a general praclifioner 
warned that even if the leg 
were miraculously healed, the 
scar would require skin 
grafting. Nonetheless, Gard- 
ner says, the ulcer healed 
the day after the prayer 
meeting, and grafting was 
not required 

"This story is so bizarre," 
says Gardner, "that it would 
not have been included had I 
not been one of the doctors 
who examined the patient's 
leg at the next monthly prayer 
meeting and had all the 

people who had been pres- 
enl not been available for 

Another case concerns a 
little boy who was slowly 
succumbing to an infection in 
lungs. Long-term arrti- 
itie treatment failed to work, 
id the boy's condition grew 
irogressively worse. His 
doctors at the Royal Victoria 
Infirmary at Newcastle upon 
Tyne gave up all hope, but 
his mother took him to a 
prayer service. To his doctors' 
amazement, he recovered 

almost immediately. 

Skeptics are quick to point 
out that spontaneous remis- 
sions occur all the time, 
so cases such as these can 
hardly be called miraculous. 
According to physiologist 
Gordon Stein of Santa Mon- 
ica. California, "Gardner 
has chosen his cases poorly 
it he wishes to document 
miraculous cures. The body's 
immune system could con- 
ceivably cure any of the 
conditions he presented A 
better test would have been a 



case of a regenerated ampu- 
tated limb. eye. or ear. which 
the immune system cannot 

Dr. Gardner disagrees. 
Hes not sure, he says, that his 
cases represent "proof of 
religious miracles. But, 
he adds, "the adjective mh 
raculous is permissible as 
convenient shorthand for 
an otherwise almost inexplic- 
able healing that occurs 
after prayer to God." 

—D. Scott Rogo 

'Once upon a time there was 
magic " 

—Arthur M. Young 

They lack the elegance of 
Oriental rugs and the plush^ 
ness of wall-to-wall carpet- 
ing. They're too small, meas- 
uring just a couple ot inches 
across, to be of much use 
except in a dollhouse. But a 
lot of people in the Minneap- 
olis suburb of Richfield jusl 
don't care — because for five 
years hundreds of them 
have been signing up at the 
Wood Lake Nature Center 
to learn how to mate rugs out 

of mouse skins 

Recently 73 people, from 
elementary-school kids to 
senior citizens, paid a dollar 
each to take the latestmouse- 
rug course offered at Ihe 
city-sponsored nature center. 
Ann Sigford, center manager, 
thinks the popularity of the 
program stems from curiosity. 
"People wonder what it's 
like fo actually skin an ani- 
mal," she says, "And some 
are attracted to this because 
II is, frankly, a little offbeat" 

Would-be mouse-rug 
makers aren't forced to catch 
their own raw material lor 
the course. They are provided 
with frozen mice bought at 
local pet stores. "People are 
always amazed that there 
are actually places where you 
can buy a bag full of frozen, 
dead mice," Sigford notes. 
"But you can. It's just like 
buying a frozen chicken." 

In fact, the original idea of 
making rugs out of mice 
came after Wood Lake Nafure 
Center personnel took a 
long, hard look in their freezer, 

in there," Sigford says, ex- 
plaining lhat rodents are fed 
to snakes on display at the 
center. "So we figured that if 
we taught something like 
taxidermy, we'd have an ad- 
ditional use for Ihose same 

The purpose of Ihe mouse- 
rug course, Sigford points 
out, is threefold First, partici- 
pants learn about skinning. 
Next the anatomy of the 
skinned body is explained 
"Then," says Sigford, "we talk 
about how things die and 
how life goes on from one liv- 
ing thing to another. We 
illustrate this by watching two 
bull snakes eat Ihe little 
skinned mice " 

At the end of the class 
mouse-rug enthusiasts flatten 
out the freshly removed 
mouse skins and pin them on 
corrugated cardboard 
squares. What do they do 
with these creations? "Kids 
keep them in their rooms," 
Sigford says, 'And I know of 
a few people who have 
received mouse rugs as 

you wear designer jeans 
and dine on raw fish at 
sushi bars, then we suggest 
you consider another fave 
rave: designer tombstones 

Monument designer Eu- 
gene Rosenbioom of St. 
Louis has already designed 
a guitarist's tombstone in 
the shape oi a six-fool-tall 
guitar, a jazz pianist's tomb- 
stone with a bas-relief of 
the deceased seated at a 
piano, and a trucker's tomb- 
stone that has a dump truck 
lutting Irom its face Some- 
what more bizarre is a tomb- 
stone (not designed by 
Rosenbioom) that is carved 
with a re-creation of the 
deceased's fatal motorcycle 

"Tombstones are just like 
clothing and hairdos: They 
run in cycles." Rosenbioom 
says. "Today many people 
are trying to personalize their 
expressions of respect, 
affection, and regard for their 
loved one who is gone by 
creating a monument that 
really Illustrates what his in- 
terests and accomplishments 
were here on Earth." 

The price of a Oes 
tombstone, if done ii 
th ree-di mensional bas- 
relief, Rosenbioom says, is 
typically double thai ol the 
average $1,200 monumenL 
—Eric Mishara 

"Scientitically speaking, the 
only thing different about 
life and death is that death 
lasts a lot. longer," 

— Terry Southern 

"Too far east is west." 

"We had a lot of dead mice gifts." — Sherry Baker 

-. a lighter, 
il about it When he 
thought the Air Force was 
covering up UFO crashes, he 
went to court demanding II 
hand over the bodies of UFO 
crews Later he advertised 
in Army and Air Force news- 
papers for whistle-blowers 
the story, 
Now it seems that taking 
on the military could cost 
Bryant his job For the past 
28 years Bryant has worked 
as a writer and editor for 
the Pentagon He's currently 
senior associate ed I 
ARNEWS, a news service for 
the Army But since he ran 
his ads, he says, his bosses 
have been trying to drive 

One aci in particular started 
the trouble- It charged that 
Army medics had per- 
formed secret autopsies on 
the crew ot a crashed saucer 
30 years earlier. Then It 
asked witnesses to come (or- 

i aid in a lawsuit 
that would make sue records 

iiragedand reluc- 
tantto give the a^ - 
ment what he called "unde- 
served credibility," Captain 
James Pasierb ban 
publication in the Peterson 
Air Forca Base newspaper, 
Bryant protested the decision 
and even plans to take the 
Air Force to court, 

Bui that is not the end of 
it "Until this happened, I 
was acting chiel of rny section 
whenever the military chief 

Bryant says "l 
assigned projects, reviewed 
stories, even wrote my own 
editorials Now I just write 
what they give me I even 
have to report 10 a sergeant 

iirst class." Adding insult to 
injury, he says, his supervi- 
sors have given him an 
unsatisfactory job rating. 

"It's an old technique." he 
concludes. "You find excuses 
to make someone look bad 
You put pressure on him 
until he really does screw up 
And then you fire him The 
only reason they've attacked 
my competence is to teach 
me a lesson, 

"Cm worried about my 
career, to say the least," 
Bryant says. "But if they think 
ihis has mellowed me, they're 
dead wrong. The issue now 
has gone beyond UFOs, 
It's whether you can work for 
the government and still 
have the right to cm 

Bryant has filed a formal 
grievance with the Army 
chief for public affairs, trying 
to get his unsatisfactory 

rating reversed, Army officials 
decline to comment while 
the action is pending 

— Owen Davies 

Want the latest news on 
contact with E.T.'s, inside 
stories on UFO sightings, and 
scientific venfication of alien 
visits to Earth? 

Dial (213) 976-UFOS. You'll 
be hooked Into the UFO/ 
Contact Newsline And for 
the phce of a phone call, 
you'll hear a different three- 
minute recorded report each 
day. The brainchild of Los 
Angeles businessman Paul 
Shepherd, thirty-one, and 
musician Rusty Weaver, 
twenly-seven, the UFO/Con- 
tact Newsline is the first 
dial-a-message line of its kind 
in the United States- 

Narrated in broadcast 
style by Weaver and KABC 
radio announcer Bill Jenkins, 
ihe dally reports feature 
"eyewitness accounts" of 
sightings, contacts, and 
abductions, One series, for 
instance, featured "verbatim 
conversations" between 
Swiss farmer Eduard Billy 
Meier and his friend Semjase. 
who allegedly hails from a 
planet in the Pleiades star 
cluster, Another report fea- 
tured a recording of the 
"actual voice" of an extrater- 
restrial flying over South 
Africa two years ago. 

"Qualify information con- 
cerning factual UFO cases 
has never before been avail- 
able in this easy-access 
way, " says Shepherd, the 
line's executive director. 
"Each month we cover six to 
seven phenomenal cases 
which we investigate our- 
selves, along with other re- 
ports from all over ihe world." 

For an additional fee of 
$1,25, he adds, the UFO/ 
Contact Newsline will send 
callers Iranscripis of the daily 
messages, copies of full 
investigative reports (com- 
plete with photos), and even 
a monthly newsletter. 

"Governments have 'tried 
to keep the UFO phenome- 
non In the loony bins," says 
Weaver, Ihe hotline's pro- 
ducer. "What we're trying to 
do is affecl Ihe average 
person, to take the fear out of 
aliens coming to this planet, 
Extraterrestrials are here, 
and they've been here, and 
this information can't be 
swept under the carpet for- 
ever. Besides," he says, 
"even if you don't believe in 
UFOs, this number is fun 
to call,"— A.J.S. Rayl 

CUNIINl.ll lirnOMPWr 'i 

John Burke collaborated wilh Yannas), as 
ii's called, is made of collagen thai comes 
from cowhide and of glycosaminoglycans 
(small sugar molecules that are linked to- 
gether). These are taken from the cartilage 
of cows or sharks. 

"How is your skin different from Freder- 
ick Silver's skin a( Ruigers?" 

"He was one of my students." 

"Oh. Then I might as well not bother 
seeing him." 

"It's up to you. I don't know how his skin 
differs from our skin. We're working with the 
worst cases — cases in which the skin has 
been lost down to the muscle and we can 
instruct that muscle lo grow new skin." 

"The PR man said you might one day be 
able to grow new breast tissue — after a 
mastectomy, for example," I say, while ac- 
tually thinking of Gore Vidal's "why did you 
stop at the neck?" comment. 

"I cannot speculate on that," Yannas says 
stiffly. "The future lies in looking at wounds 
as bioreactors, which, if properly in- 
structed and controlled, will not give you a 
scar but a higher- o/aae product — regen- 
erated tissue." 

"A higher-grade product than the one you 
had before?" I ask, ever hopetul of a better 
complexion and bigger tits, with no risk of 
the breast-uno an: sea' capsules that plas- 
tic surgeons call coconuts. 

"No. A higher-grade product than scar." 

"Why couldn't O'Connor and Gallico 
have used your skin? It would have been 
so much fasterand easier." 

"I do not know. It may not have been 

Across the Charles River, in a basement 
oftice of the great labyrinth that is Boston's 
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Nicholas 
O'Connor is gulping down a paslrami 
sandwich and some coleslaw, his head 
strategically angled over the wastebasket 
he has moved between his chair and his 
desk. A lanky, genial, good-looking Irish- 
man with a shock of prematurely white hair, 
O'Connor says he couldn't use the Yan- 
nas-Burke skin on the burned brothers 
because MIT wasn't making it then. Now 
it's available on a controlled FDA trial basis 
at nine centers around the country. "But 
you can't just. . . gerit," says O'Connor. Yet 
he concedes that even though it always 
grows to epidermal thickness, cultured 
skin— an extremely thin, transparent layer 
looking like Jell-0 that hasn't quite jelled — 
might be more durable in the long run over 
a layer of the Yannas-Burke artificial skin. 

"Too bad they couldn't have worked 
twenty-four hours a day at the lab to make 
some for you." 

O'Connor shrugs, passes it off, doesn't 
want to get into a discussion of scientific, 
commercial, clinical cooperation. The 
"main thing in the future." says O'Connor, 
will be an acceptable skin substitute for 
burn patients, trauma victims, people with 


radiation damage or wrinkled skin. This fu- 
ture skin will exactly mimic real skin, with 
as many "appendages" of skin as possi- 
ble. Il will probably be accomplished by 
mixing artificial skin with the patient's own 
epithelial cells, which will come from a bank 
of cells stored away when the patient was 
young. Whatever goes wrong later— from 
accident to disease to old age — can then 
be corrected, removed, or regenerated. 

The solutions for wrinkled skin at the 
present time — dermabrasion or peeling — 
are less than perfect. And although peel- 
ing is more effective than dermabrasion, it 
depletes the skin of a lot of color. Better to 
scrape off the wrinkled epidermis and re- 
surface the face with skin cloned from the 
futuristic frozen-cell bank. 

Thinking about a friend who went to a 
"back-street peeling parlor" in Miami and 
couldn't close her eyes tor three years, my 
De Kooning complex resurfaces. 

"I have these lines above my lip," I say. 
"What would, you do if it were your lace? 

6 We're working 

with the worst cases — 

cases in which. 

'the skin has been lost down 

, ' to the muscle 

and we can, in fact, 

instruct that 

muscle to grow new skin.^ 

Dermabrasion or peeling?" 

"Neither," O'Connor answers. 

"How do you think my nose came out? I 
had it shortened and the bump shaved in 

"Let's see the profile." I turn, giving him 
my bad side. 

"It's a nice, straight nose. He did a nice 
job. Bui turn toward me." I turn again "See, 
in this light you can notice little squiggles 
on the bridge. That's why you should al- 
ways powder your nose." 

Laughing at the advice I've been given 
by one of the country's top plastic sur- 
geons, I phone Yannas and tell him I forgot 
to take a look ai his anrioial skin. "You can't 
expect me to respond immediately to a 
sudden request like that," he complains. "I 
have a seminar in ten minutes." 

"Oh, never mind. I'll look at the Rutgers 
skin when I get back. It's closer anyway." 

"Do not take their skin for our skin," Yan- 
nas warns. "I have not seen it. I do not know 
how it compares." 

Set amid a lonely, sun-blanched land- 
scape reminiscent of architectural render- 
ings, Rutgers University's modernistic 
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School 

looks bleak. But on the seventh floor in a 
tiny, windowless cubicle, Frederick Silver 
is anything but that. Speaking with the kind 
ot accent that calls an idea an "idear," he 
grins a rubbery grin, pushes his horn- 
rimmed glasses down onto a face that looks 
about twenty-two, whips a little, clear-plas- 
tic bag out of his pocket.-and tells me I can 
touch the skin — but only through the plas- 
tic. "If I let everybody touch it, I won't have 
any more left." he explains. 

Floating in what appears to be a saline 
solution is a white, porous pad that looks 
like several woven layers of plastic gauze. 
I squeeze through the plastic, and the "skin" 
bounces back. He takes out another bag. 
"A collagen fiber," he says, "which will 
eventually be used for an artificial tendon." 
I can barely locate it. Finally I spot a thin, 
whiter hair floating in the solution. 

Though he was coinventor ot the MIT 
skin, Silver complains that it has certain 
disadvantages. He questions the neces- 
sity of the glycosaminoglycans because 
they're water soluble and "the minute any- 
one touches biological fluids, they're 
washed out of the artificial skin. Why have 
them there?", he asks me. "It just confuses 
the issue. And you have to get them from 
shark cartilage, and how available is shark 
cartilage?" I remind him that Yannas says 
you can get them from anything: cow car- 
tilage, for example. 

"You can." he agrees, "but go down to 
the butcher and say, 'How about some cow 
cartilage?' and he'll say, 'Sure. Here are the 
bones. You cut it off.' " The main ingredi- 
ent, collagen, on the other hand, is easy to 
get, thanks to slaughterhouses. And the 
leather industry strips the collagen layer 
from the rest of the hide anyway and would 
rather sell it than throw it out. "And you don't 
have to do a lot with it once you get it. The 
second problem with the MIT skin is that 
they've cross-linked it with glutaraldehyde, 
an agent that can be cytotoxic." 

The whole point of the artificial dermis, 
says Silver, is to replace the skin and "con- 
tour out" the wound. When you have a 
wound, your cells move in and lay down 
something called granulation tissue, which 
is followed by scar tissue. The presence of 
the collagen matrix (or artificial skin) ap- 
parently tricks your own cells into skipping 
the granulation process; and when fibro- 
blast cells (responsible for connective tis- 
sue) are inserted into the matrix, you don't 
have to wait the three to seven days it would 
normally take for them to move into the 
wound and begin making new tissue. 

To explain contouring out he shows me 
photographs of a deep skin ulcer that has 
been filled in and is shrinking as a result of 
applying the artificial skin. One still needs 
a graft over that, he says; otherwise, one is 
still open to infection and loss of water and 
heat. In other words, it's essential "to keep 
the inside in and the outside out." 

"The liberated man sees that the skin 
may just as well be regarded as what joins 
us to our environment as what separates 
us from it," said the late hippie Buddhist 

convert Alan Walts. I listen in amazement 
to Silver's explanation of the piezoelectric- 
ity ol bone and collagen — wherein me- 
chanical energy or stress becomes elec- 
trical energy— and to his theory that 
perhaps "the organized collagen fibers 
within the scaffolding of the matrix are de- 
veloping an electrical surlace pattern on 
which the new cells are orienting." 

I imagine the plastic surgery patient of 
the future, lying on an- operating table out 
in a field: her own electromagnetic cur- 
rents hooked up to the earth's; nol only her 
skin but also her bone, muscle, cartilage, 
and other tissue joined even further with 
the environment. I think of the Hindu belief 
that one is taking in prana or "life force" 
with every breath and that it can be inten- 
sified. Is prana composed, then, of elec- 
tromagnetic currents'? When Shiva in the 
Bhagavad Gits says, "This body, O sun of 
Kunti, is the field," does he mean the elec- 
tromagnetic field? Is the agricultural field 
separate from the electromagnetic field, or 
are they one and the same? 

O'Connor tells me that fulure surgery will 
be like an episode from Star Trek: "They 
got 'Under a machine, a- light came oh, a 
laser zapped out, and they got up and 
walked away healed." I imagine chins and 
noses rearranged, breasts augmented, 
and thighs thinned without knives, needles, 
anesthesia, or implants. And I realize Dick 
Tracy was right when he said, "He who 
controls magnetism controls fhe world." 
Nevertheless, Silver has insisted I go to 
Memorial Sloan-Keltering Cancer Center 
to see Magdalena Eisinger, "who knows 
more lhan anybody else in the country 
about the black magic of growing cells." 

When I follow his recommendation Eis- 
inger laughs that "Fred Silver's trying to 
brainwash you with electromagnetism, but 
I'm going to brainwash you with the growth 
factor, instead." The ebullient, blue-eyed 
blond who is head of the skin cellular biol- 
ogy laboratory at Sloan-Ketlering left 
Prague for Vienna in 1968 for a week's va- 
cation with her husband, two daughters, 
and two suitcases Berause of the Rus- 
sian invasion of Czechoslovakia, they got 
on a plane for New York instead of return- 
ing home. The first thing she asks me is, 
"What is Yannas like?" 


She counters, "You have to give him 
credit for being the first and for sticking to 
it tor so many years before he got results."' 

Eisinger and her staff are working with 
melanocytes, the pigment-making cells 
responsible for tanning, brown spots, 
freckles, and the deadly skin cancer mel- 
anoma. They've isolated the cells' growth 
factor. Shun-lchiro Ogata, a young Japa- 
nese researcher, is purifying it now in a 
maze ol glass jars, machines, and tubes 
he designed himself. We all stand back to 
admire the aesthetics of the arrangement. 
Once Eisinger and colleagues purify the 
growth factor, they can figure out how to 
reproduce the pigment-producing cells 
and to stop the cells' growth. Then they'll 

be able to make a cream to go: rid of brown 
spots, or a substance that' will let you -tan 
without^ sunbathing. This research, they 
hope, will lead to a melanoma cure- 
While explaining all this, Eisinger is ab- 
sentmindedly running a hand back and 
forth over a spot on her forearm. "I've heard 
that some scientists use themselves as 
guinea pigs," I say. avidly examining her 
arm for signs of discoloration. "Could it be 
that you're doing the same thing?" 

"No, no, no! Don't you dare suggest a 
thing like that It isn't true," she insists, 
clasping her hands together on her lap. 

"Here," I tell her. "Look at my arm. I've 
got a really dark brown spot right there." 

"Oh," she sighs, "if only you were a pig! 
That one would be particularly useful tor 

'Just slather me with the stuff anyway," I 
beg, after which I give her a blow-by-blow 
account of some of my recent surgical ex- 
periences in Rio. to convince her of my 
bravery when it comes to beauty. 

6/ imagine the 
plastic surgery patient, her 

' currents hooked up to the 

earth's— not only 
skin but muscle, cartilage, 

and other tissue 
joined to her environment.^ 

"Don't tell me how old you are," she or- 
ders. "Let me guess. If I didn't know you 
had all that work done, I'd say thirty-five." 

"Forty-seven," I answer. 

"Then you should never tell anybody 
you've had surgery. You look so good, why 
spoil it?" 

"You use yourself as a guinea pig in 
medicine," I explain. "I use myself as a 
guinea pig in journalism." 

Laughing but denying any self-experi- 
mentation, she takes me down the corri- 
dor. It's past five, but everybody's still 
working with the thousands of plastic jars 
and bottles containing red liguid (red to 
show pH changes) and various combina- 
tions of skin cells — with and without fibro- 
blasts, cancerous and noncancerous, pig- 
mented and nonpigmented. Some are 
growing on Fred Silver's collagen ma- 
trices, and some are growing on the bot- 
tles' bare plastic walls. 

"Oh, Sara," Eisinger says to the young 
Israeli working on immunology (the skin is 
the most allergic qrgan: a transplant from 
one person to another lasts only a few 
days), "do you have that wonderful flask of 
cells, fhe pigment-producing cells? Give 

her a basic course in cell biology." 

"It's not so good," Sara says. "It was 
trypsinized yesterday." Trypsin suspends 
the cells and separates them. 

"Then show her some fibroblasts, Olga," 
she says to another blond, blue-eyed 
Czech, "In one case we put fibroblasts into 
the collagen matrix without epidermal cells, 
and the epidermal cells grew in anyway." I 
look through the microscope and see 
beautiful Persian arrangements of normal 
fibroblasts, arrangements that are crying 
to be painted. Then I see— to quote Olga — 
"particularly vicious," spindle-shaped, 
cancerous fibroblasts, shaped that way to 
penetrate more easily. They look like a dis- 
orderly house and disturb me the way an 
overdose of TV sound, or Times Square 
after dark, does — an assault on the space 
between my eyes. Gazing at some pig- 
ment cells they've managed to isolate, I say, 
"Oh, yes, the greenish-yellow spots." 

"No, brown." "Greenish-yellow," I insist. 

"She must be color-blind," Sara says. 

"No, she's an artist," Eisinger says. 

"Here, look at this beautiful green," I say. 
"It's at about two o'clock." 

Magdalena looks through the micro- 
scope. "That's not the color of the cell, " she 
says, disgusted. "That's a light refraction." 

Then Magdalena shows me a photo- 
graph of a young black boy afflicted with 
a rare disease that causes the skin to peel 
off. Skin grafts didn't lake well, so they cul- 
tured his skin. But skin grown in a test tube 
lacks pigment, so the boy's lace is a mot- 
tled white and "black, a dramatic illustration 
of the importance ol Eisinger's work. No 
matter the colors, however, the "after" photo 
shows a dramatic improvement over the 
raw, bleeding tissue that covered the en- 
tire middle section in the "before" photo. 
Feeling incredibly blessed to have normal 
skin, I leave after promising to come back 
to witness an operation on one of the ex- 
perimental pigs housed on the third floor. 
"Don't forget," Eisinger reminds me at the 
elevator, "to give Yannas credit." 

"Magdalena Eisinger did the pioneering 
work. She was the first one to grow epithe- 
lial cells," Yannas says when I check with 
him about the damn glycosaminoglycans, 
explaining that Silver claims they disap- 
pear upon contact with bodily fluids. 

"That is his opinion," 

"What about the cytotoxicity of glutaral- 
dehyde?" I ask, interrupting his response 
to scream "Stop it!" at my daughter Gaby, 
who is babbling in my ear. 

"If Gaby is bothering you," he begins 
again, "and you get another little girl to play 
with her. . ." 

"I've got another little girl." 

"Ten, then. She'll be busy in the next 
room— tied up — and she won't be jabber- 
ing at you. Thai's what happens to the glu- 
taraldehyde. It ties up the collagen fibers, 
bonds with them. And having done that, 
it's spent itself and lost its toxicity. Any free 
glutaraldehyde that might remain is washed 
out for twenty-four hours, and the water is 
tested with a special glutaraldehyde-de- 

tecting agent. This is very important. Other 
scientists should not . . ." 

"This competition among scientists. . .," 
I sigh, eager to express solidarity with any- 
one who uses my beloved child as a sci- 
entific metaphor. 

"Competition is not all destructive, " Yan- 
nas responds. "The one hundred twenty- 
two people treated with artificial skin who 
are well are, to some extent, the result of 

In Manhattan's world of cosmetic sur- 
gery — an even more competitive field than 
pure science — I visit the charming, per- 
petually smiling Dr. Robert Cucin in his 
marble-lined town house. After a discus- 
sion of various types of face-lifts and re- 
constructive surgery, he gets down to 
business: playing with his computer im- 
aging machine; poking dots into profiles to 
slim them down; adding and subtracting 
theoretical bone, cartilage, and tissue. Fi- 
nally satisfied that my own froze n-on-the- 
screen image is as good as he can get it, 
he says, "Well, what would you like to have 

"Can you do anything about my bulging 


"Can you make my lip turn up?" 

"Unfortunately not." 

"Well, then . . . what needs doing?" 

"How about some implants on your 

Having heard all my life how well I was 
going to age because of my high cheek- 
bones, I panic. "My God! Are my cheek- 
bones disintegrating already?" He swivels 
around and takes a look at my actual f lesh- 
and-blood face. 

"Well." he concedes, "maybe not, How 
about this area?" Busy with a stylus, he 
takes a tuck in my left eyelid, which unbe- 
knownst to him had been tucked by Ivo 
Pitanguy, the famous plastic surgeon from 
Brazil, 12 months earlier. He raises the 
eyebrow. There's virtually no difference, 
however, between the two eyes, since the 
image he's, playing with is already char- 
acterized by the startled-doe look of my 
almost too-wide-open eyes, thanks to my 
altered lids. Sensing something amiss, he 
gets up, walks over to me, and lakes a 
closer look. "Have you ever in your life had 
surgery on your eyelids?" he asks. 

When I admit the truth, he explains that 
I'm so fair-skinned there's been no scar- 
ring, so it was impossible to tell. Making a 
mental note to thank Pitanguy for a scar- 
free face, I tell Cucin that since I had my 
nose bump removed, I've acquired a new 
one, probably from Gaby bouncing on my 
bed a few months after my surgery and 
slamming her hard little skull right into the 
newly razed bridge. He erases my face and 
gets me to sit tor a profile. 

I look like a hideous crone. "My God. I 
never realized how ugly my chin is," I com- 
plain. "ForgeHhe nose; it's the chin that 
wants attention." After he whittles away at" 
the chin, I decide now that the chin looks 
good, the nose looks bad. He says if f really 

140 OMNI 

wan* to get rid of the bump, he'll have to 
break the bone, as Pitanguy should have 
done. t Then we both decide the bridge is 
too wide. He punches some black dots into 
the video profile to thin the bridge, short- 
ens the tip, changes the nostril, and adds 
some white dots to fill out the upper lip, all 
at my suggestion. I look like one of my 
younger sisters now, the one who married 
my last fiance, the sister, to quote Pitanguy, 
"born with a ten-thousand-dollar nose." 

"This is not a surgical tale. Doctor; it's a 
Freudian one," I tell him on my way out the 
door, clutching a Polaroid of the altered 
profile. Back home my fifteen-year-old 
daughter. Alexandra, studies it and says, 
"Mom, you don't look like Aunt Marybeth 
here; you look like a fish!" 

"Nonsense!" says the young, equally 
charming Michael Evan Sachs in his posh 
Manhattan office after a pretty and very 
pregnant black recepfionist wearing a 
jumpsuit shows me in. "I can raze that 
bump down in ten minutes right here in my 

'•Once Eisinger 
purifies pigment-growth 

factor, she may 
deveiop a cream that gets 
- ' rid of brown 
spots, or a substance that 

allows you to 
tan without sunbathing.^ 1 

office. [Finesse sculpting rhinoplasty, he 
calls it.] I never heard anything crazier than 
breaking the bone!" I think of Silver's wish 
for the future: that clinicians and research- 
ers would communicate and share infor- 
mation and results more closely. 

'Are you squeamish?" Sachs asks. I re- 
late that upon graduating from college. 
where I majored in fine art, I took a job with 
a scientist at Harvard Medical School. 
When he showed me how to slit open a 
rat's vein and insert a plastic tube, I fainted. 

"Can you sit through a video of my fat- 
evaporation technique?" 

"I can try," I answer. 

In realistic color a Chien Andatou-iype 
image flicks on: a knife approaching an 
eyeball. But instead of the eye, the skin un- 
derneath is slit open to reveal a yellow pad 
of fat embedded in a triangle of raw. bloody 
tissue. A needle is inserted into the pad, 
the cauterized fat suddenly sizzles away 
and evaporates, and I don't even feel faint. 

"Why is that better than cutting?" 

"By cutting ygu either nick some of the 
tissue or you don't get all the fat. This way 
you get it all and no bleeding." 

"Can you do it to thighs?" 

"I don't see why not, though you'd need 
a much stronger current. But the trouble 
with doing it to thighs or suctioning it out of 
thighs is that you have all that skin left over 
and something has to be done with it. I only 
do head and neck work." 

Since I survived the eye-fat evaporation, 
I decide to watch a "nose-augmentation 
video, using Sachs's other invention: tissue 
ciay. First I'm shown the collagen: a white, 
P!ay-Doh-like substance being mixed in a 
bowl with the patient's own blood. (Re- 
minds me of my mother during World War II 
kneading a red bead into while lard to make 
yellow margarine.) The resulting dark red 
material is put into a syringe and inserted 
under the skin into the patient's nose, where 
the skin has been lifted off the bone. The 
way the flaccid nose is manipulated asfhe 
tissue clay is sculpted makes the patient 
look like a corpse dragged out of the fridge 
on Quincy. 

"How long does it last?" 

"So far we've had a maximum sixteen 
percent resorption in five years. Beyond 
that, it's too soon to tell. But actual bone 
and other materials resorb even more." 

"What about the sliced coral Kenneth 
Salyer uses in Houston?" I ask. "The new 
bone grows into the coral holes, and the 
coral biodegrades." 

'Anything hard will do that," Sachs says. 

Whether growing new bone cells or new 
skin, the structure of the inserted material 
is the key. The reason Zyderm collagen im- 
plants don't last beyond 18 months when 
used in filling. facial lines is that each arti- 
ficial molecule is hollow. When new cells 
form on the collagen molecule's smooth, 
spherical surface, they eventually de- 
grade it and tumble into the empty space, 
whose volume is greater than that of the 
now-degraded surface. Hence there aren't 
enough new cells to fill up the wrinkle. 

Fred Silver showed me his solution: a jar 
filled with collagen beads that looked like 
lavender couscous ("That's just so you can 
see them," he says about the color). The 
beads are structured like sponge or coral 
so that new cells begin to proliferate from 
deep within the center of each molecule 
and spread outward. Once the artificial 
beads have biodegraded, you have a filled- 
in surface. Silver, unfortunately rejected my 
guinea pig offer to lest the beads. Be- 
cause he's not a physician, he explains, he 
can't inject it. 

"Micro is the key here," says San Fran- 
cisco's Dr. Samuel Stegman of the Ameri- 
can Society for Dermatologic Surgery 
about experimental microlipoinjection, a 
technique that suctions fat from one part 
of the body and injects it into another. It is 
widely used in France and Switzerland but 
is not considered a standard procedure in 
the United States. "By injecting less than 
three'cubic centimeters of teeny-tiny fat 
globules through a nineteen-gauge needle . 
and not injuring them in the process and 
by spreading them out enough in an area 
that has fat anyway, you get them to grow, 
giving you something that's feasible," he 

explains. "This is still in (he let-me-try stage. 
It's not in the l'm-ready-to-give-you-the- 
right-iormula stage. Microlipoinjection is 
autograft: the patient is his or her own do- 
nor, so there won't be any allergies. It's 
simple to harvest and simple to do — an 
office procedure. It's too early to tell how 
long it lasts, but the word on this one is, 
Follow closely. Crow's-feel are too fine; for 
them, use co.laoen. sparingly. You and I 
are the same age. I've got a thin face, and 
I've looked in the mirror and said, 'Well, 
when is it gonna be time?' " 

"You know the hollow between the top of 
the cheekbone and the eyeball?" I ask, en- 
couraged lo really get into the De Kooning 

"I know exactly what you're talking about, 
and I do it there. Zyplast and maybe a little 
microlipoinjection. Zyplast goes under the 
skin to build il up at about the same level 
that silicone is put in. It's sort of a gel. I've 
done many of the studies for the Collagen 
Corporation, and I've used Zyplast for three 
years now. Whereas collagen may disin- 
tegrate between six and eighteen months, 
Zyplast may disintegrate between twelve 
and twenty months. Microlipoinjection is for 
tiny little puff-ups. For the laugh lines, the 
hollows of the cheeks, and some of the 
forehead furrows — no creases but deep 
furrows. I'm also looking into a sonic fat 
dissolver so I can go under the skin with a 
needle and sculpt." says Stegman. 

"No cuts, no stitches, no scars — just a 
blast ot sound, right?" 


'Anything new with the breasts? Can you 
move the fat up a few feet? Say, from the 
thighs to the tits?" 

"No. Everything's gotta be in the bag." 

(Wrong. A Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, 
Mel Bircoll, has been moving nonbag fat 
up into breasts in amounts of 130 cubic 
centimeters for the past 21 months, too 
soon to tell if there will be resorption.) 

In a reassuringly old-fashioned office in 
New York, Bernard Simon, seventy-four, 
consulting surgeon, prolessor emeritus of 
plastic surgery at Mount Sinai, and the last 
surviving plastic surgeon of those who 
worked on the "Hiroshima maidens," greets 
me with, 'Anybody who touches your face 
should be drummed out of the profession, 
prevented from communication with any- 
body, put in a cell, the door slammed shut 
and never opened again. You're absolutely 
stunning, for God's sake." When I tell him 
about computer imaging and fat evapo- 
ration, he says, "You've been keeping some 
pretty raunchy company. 

"If sas if Picasso or Michelangelo would 
have had to use a computer," he says. "You 
know the story about Giotto and the pope, 
don't you? The pope's representatives 
came up to Giotto like a search committee 
for a university to see whether he was a 
good enough artist to do some things for 
the Vatican. And'Giotto took a piece of pa- „ 
per and, with a flourish, drew a circle and 
said, 'They'll understand it.' His skill.. was 
such that he didn't need a compass. The 

ability to translate hand, eye, and heart, 
Viva, is very exciting — it's a unity." 

Simon puts two books in my lap: Long- 
Term Results in Plastic £nd Reconstructive 
Surgery, edited by Robert M. Goldwyn, and 
The Principles and Art of Plastic Surgery, 
by Sir Harold Gillies and Ralph Millard, Jr. 
"Millard's one of the most important people 
in the field of cleft-lip surgery," Simon ex- 
plains, and also, according to my friend 
from the back-street peeling parlor in 
Miami, one of the experts on face peeling. 

I open this latter volume at random and 
read: "In face-lifting, avoid the young 
woman who has little to gain. Yet there is a 
state in a woman's facial ptosis [drooping] 
when it is better to lift or relift than wait until 
too late. A beautitul woman is worth pre- 
serving, and should be kept youthful while 
she is still young enough to enjoy it." 

I close the book after glimpsing some 
pictures of a couple of World War II vets 
whose faces, from the upper lip down, are 
abstract masses of bloody tissue. Now I do 


is for tiny little puff-ups, 

for laugh lines, 

' and some forehead furrows. 

I'm also looking 

into a sonic fat dissolver to 

go under the skin 
with a needle and sculpt$ 

feel faint. Taking a deep breath, I say, "Well, 
Doctor, just last year I had my eyes, neck, 
nose, and face done in Rio." 

"You did!" he exclaims, shocked. 

"I suppose I didn't really need it. . . ." 

"I was going to say. You have the kind of 
face and figure lhat when you're eighty, 
you're going to look like Katharine Hep- 
burn. When a beautiful woman, an already 
attractive woman like yourself, has sur- 
gery, in her exuberance she looks at the 
surgeon and says, 'Oh, Doctor, aren't you 
wonderful, you're a genius.' and these 
dumb SOBs believe it. They don't realize 
they're just doing what they've been trained 
to do. Just as any abdominal surgeon of 
any competence lakes out your appendix, 
your gallbladder, your . . ." 

"But Doctor, what can I do about my 
breasts 7 Between my two children, I'm 
embarrassed to'admit, I've been nursing 
for a total of six years." 

"Why are you apologizing?" 

"My father said I was going to turn Gaby 
into a lesbian." .. 

"Oh, balls! Don't let your daddy con you. 
Anyway, I have literature to prove that every 
single, woman who's had breast-augmen- 

lation surgery did it only to please herself. 
Not a husband or lover gave a lig what her 
breasts looked like!" (LaterSimon, recant- 
ing a bit, says that he was referring to a 

Johns Hopkins study ol 60 women who had 
undergone breast-enlargement surgery. 
None had done so to please a man.) 

"How about face-lifts?" I ask. "Why do 
you sometimes do Ihem over again after 
eighteen months?" 

"If you read my article in Bob Goldwyn's 
book, you'll understand that in face-lifts the 
skin stretches, and I point out why." 

Briefly, the collagen fibers — which do not 
have elastic properties and are oriented in 
a squiggly, random fash ion— straigh ten into 
parallel structures after a face-lift. Mean- 
while, the skin's elastic network, which is 
incapable of regeneration, stretches and, 
with age, becomes like a worn-out girdle. 

Horrified at the thought of my straight- 
ened-out collagen and the worn-out girdle 
that was once my elastic network, I rush 
home and track Pitanguy by phone in St. 
Tropez, where he's "staring out to sea at a 
boat that doesn't seem to move." After a 
brief sortie into philosophy ("The passage 
between maturity and old age can be 
eased by the right direction between soul 
and body"), he tells me that the "right di- 
rection" of the pull between the tragus (the 
bump on the cartilage where the front of 
the ear joins the cheek) and the Darwin 
tubercle (the bump on the back of the ear 
opposite the tragus) is one of three things 
responsible for the long-lasting effects that 
characterize his face-lifts and the nondis- 
ruption of collagen fibers. ("Impossible," 
says Cucin.) Pull without overstretching the 
skin, Pitanguy continues. The other two are 
a proper amount of undermining, or sep- 
aration ol the skin from the muscle, which 
includes liposuction of the fat under the chin 
(with an instrument that separates skin from 
musclewhetherornotyou suction fat), and 
treatment of the SMAS plaiysma. (SfvlAS 
stands for the superficial muscular apo- 
neurotic system, which envelops the 
deeper platysma. The platysma, accord- 
ing to Gray's Anatomy, is a broad, thin plane 
of muscular fibers that extends from the 
face to the clavicle and produces wrinkling 
of the skin's surface, depression of the jaw. 
and a drawing down of the mouth, "being 
one of the chief agents in the expression 
of melancholy") 

"Do you cut through the SMAS pla- 
tysma?" ■ 

"You resection it. No one cuts through it 
anymore. 1 was always against cutting 
through because it distorts the expres- 
sion," says Pitanguy. 

"Maybe Pitanguy gets a distortion when 
he cuts through it, but we don't, "claims Dr. 
Val Lambrose, an associate of Bruce Con- 
nell, the Santa Ana, California, surgeon who 
brought Thod Skood's SMAS platysma 
technique from Scandinavia to this coun- 
try. Lambrose also says that the literature 
on traditional breast implants above the 
pectoral muscle claims 30 to 40 percent 
scarring, but with his technique of implant- 

ing underneath ihe muscle, only 10 per- 
cent of his patients fal victim to the "co- 
conut syndrome." Furthermore, after Con- 
nell realized that "when people look at you, 
they concentrate on the triangle between 
your eyebrows and your upper lip," he re- 
fined the brow-lift, a procedure thai had 
fallen into disrepute. Connell cuts through 
the muscle at the hairline, thus avoiding 
cutting away any hair or lengthening the 

I ponder the proposition. "I thought no- 
body did that anymore because it pre- 
vents one from lifting one's eyebrows." 

"Some doctors mighl go: lhat result, but 
we don't," says Lambrose, who also re- 
veals that with the "deep, strong pull" he 
and Connell give to the severed SMAS pla- 
tysma, their results "can only be. described 
as miraculous." 

Looking for someth ng oven more mirac- 
ulous, I phone Sachs and ask for a more 
detailed futurslio plastic surgery scenario 
than the one O'Connor gave me — the CAT 
scan with the laser beam. 

"Okay," Sachs says, "let's say we're 
gonna do a nose job and a face-lift and 
we're not gonna use a laser; we're gonna 
use an electromagnetic ray." 

"Why not a breast augmentation and an 
ass and thigh reduction at the same time? 
Why not lay her right down on that table 
the way Pitanguy does and do it all in one 
fell swoop?" I suggest. 

"Why not? Okay. First her doctor gives 
hersite-specific pills a coupla days ahead. 
One to the bone, muscle, cartilage, and 
skin. She'll go into a CAT-scan-type room 
and lie down, but instead of a CAT scan 
she'll have a nuclear magnetic resonance 
unit. Instead of X rays it uses the intrinsic 
radiation that's given off by her own cells, 
to take a photograph." 

"As the developing fluid, so to speak?" 

"Right. Well have a hologram image, and 
we'll have a computer. We'll call up her nose 
on the computer. With a pen I'll draw the 
changes I want to make, and the computer 
will analyze that picture — the bone, carti- 
lage, subcutaneous tissues — and will see 
what needs to be reduced and in what way. 
Then we'll make a new hologram. The ma- 
chine she's in will emit a certain electro- 
magnetic radiation — just like TV waves. To 
reduce the bone in that area, an energy 
beam will trigger the molecules from the 
chemical that is already in there from the 
pill she's taken. Same way with the skin. 
This little machine will spray a sort of invis- 
ible paint on the skin. The paint will react 
with the chemical that's already lodging 
there; and the electromagnetic ray will turn 
on the chemical reaction, remove some 
molecules, tighten the skin." 

(According to Silver, with whom I imme- 
diately double-check, this might be pos- 
sible if a small amount of molecules, "invis- 
ible'to the naked eye," were removed. The 
replacements growing in would have a 
tighter alignment because the normal 
healing response is to lay down fibers un- 
der tension; a wrinkle in fabric is removed 

144 OMNI 

under lension.) 

"To augment the breasts," Sachs contin- 
ues, "we'll call them up on the screen, 
redesign Ihem. rond the electromagnet c ray 
will cause the molecules in the lactating tis- 
sue and the muscles to increase, the skin 
to stretch," 

When I talk to Silver later, he points out 
that an electromagnetic ray is a laser and 
what it does is emit a •high-intensity light 
that has an electric and magnetic field. The 
ray causes evaporation of the atoms by 
pulling the electrons away trom it. But the 
patient would have to be immobile be- 
cause movement can change the coordi- 
nates, so a surgeon would have to contour 
the surgery table and attach the patient's 
body to it with vacuum cups. And if she 
did move, the laser would shut off. 

"Will we be sorry we played God?" I ask 
O'Connor when he talks about research- 
ers working on DNA that can be inserted 
into cells and Gan give them better ability 
to repair themselves. 

"Oh, yeah," he says, "but we've been 
sorry we played God all along. With every 
major advance there are prices to pay. The 
magnificent theories of Einstein, for in- 
stance, led to atomic bombs." 

"What about it?" I ask Eismger. "Will we 
have a board of laymen and scientists lo 
make future decisions — the way we should 
have had before Ihe nuclear-arms race and 
power plants got out of hand?" 

"We_have that already in Japan," says 
he^ assistant. Ogata, "more resl'ielions than 
you do here." 

"But it would make sense they worry 
about it more in Japan," I say. "They've 
been the ones to suffer most from the mag- 
nificent theories of Einstein." 

Ogata nods and smiles. He wants to 
continue what Eisinger calls "a philosoph- 
ical discussion," but time is short. So he 
gets back to the thousands of plastic bot- 
tles containing red fluid and various skin 
cells, carrying on simultaneously in at least 
two of the three fields Bernard Simon calls 
the keys lo the plastic surgery of the tuture: 
technical innovations, immunology, and 
regeneration. Even today, however, with 
these i e ! ds far tro-r: ponec:ed. movies. TV, 
beaches, resta.i'ani;, ana health clubs are 
fast becoming populated by armies of the 
surgically altered. I watch them parade by 
and think of the Queen of Miami Beach, an 
eighty-yea' old who managed — with ex- 
ercise, diet, and plastic surgery— to ap- 
pear no older than thirty-five. She and her 
thirty-year-old lover spent their time with her 
children. One day her body was found with 
a note reading: "I couldn't stand it any- 
more; I looked thirty-five but inside I fell like 
eighty, and I just couldn't keep up. My in- 
sides didn't match my outsides. Sorry." 

Once we get to the point where our in- 
sides match our outsides, we'll really be in 
trouble. Then maybe we can indulge our 
De Kooning complexes mocTnitoly. lo Ihe 
point where the big dealer upstairs never 
has to come down and take our bodies off 
the easel. DO 

mad-scientist tradition, on Ihe verge of de- 
stroying human intellect and just as happy 
as. a clam at high tide. 

Guys like my brother Bobby only come 
along once every two or three generations, 
I think— guys like Newton, Einstein, Da 
Vinci, maybe Edison. They all seem to have 
one thing in common: They are like huge 
compasses tha- swing aimlessly for a long 
time, searching for some true north and 
then homing in on it with fearful force, Be- 
fore that happens, such guys are apt to get 
up to some weird shit, and Bobby was no 
exception. When he was eight and I was 
fifteen, he came to me and said he had 
invented an airplane. By then I knew Bobby 
too well to just say "Bullshit" and kick him 
out of my room. I went out to the garage, 
where there was this weird plywood con- 
traption sitting on his American Flyer red 
wagon. It looked a little like a fighter plane, 
but the wings were raked forward instead 
of back. He had mounted the saddle from 
his rocking horse on the middle of it with 
bolls. There was a lever on the side. There 
was no motor. He said it was a glider. He 
wanted me to. push him down Carrigan's 
Hill, which was the steepest grade in DCs 
Grant Park— there was a cement path 
down the middle of it for old folks. That, 
Bobby said, would be his runway. 

"Bobby," I said, "you got this puppy's 
wings on backward." 

"No," he said. "This is the way they're 
supposed to be. I saw something on Wild 
Kingdom about hawks. They dive down on 
their prey and then reverse their wings 
coming up. They're double-jointed, see? 
Yoi..- get better lit! this way." 

"Then why isn't the Air Force building 
them this way 9 " I askeo. o ;: sstuliy unaware 
that both America anci vie Soviet Union had 
plans lor such forward-wing fighter planes 
on their drawing boards. 

Bobby just shrugged. We went over to 
Carrigan's Hill, and he climbed into the 
rocking-horse saddle arc grpped the le- 
ver. "Push me hard" he said. His eyes were 
dancing with that crazed light I knew so 
well — Christ, his. eyes used to light up that 
way in hiscradle sometimes. But I swear 
to God, I never would have pushed him 
down the cement path as hard as I did if I 
thought the thing would actually work. 

But I didn't know, and I gave him one hell 
of a shove. He went Toewneeling down the 
hill, whooping like a cowboy just off a trail 
drive and headed into town for a few cold 
beers. An old lady had to jump out of his 
way, and he just missed an old guy in a 
walker. Halfway down he pulled the han- 
dle, and 1 1 watched, w e'e eyed and gape- 
jawed, as his splintery oiywcocf plane sep- 
arated from the wagon. At first it only hov- 
ered inches above it, and for a second it 
looked like it was going to settle back. Then 
there was a gust of wind, and Bobby's 


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plane took off ke someone had it on an 
invisible cable. The American Flyer wagon 
ran off the concrete path and into some 
bushes. All of a sudden Bobby was ten 
feet in the air, then twenty, then fifty. He 
went gliding over Grant Park on a steep- 
ening, upward plane, whooping cheerily. 

I went running after fiim, screaming for 
him to come down, visions ol his body tum- 
bling off that stupid rocking-horse saddle 
and impaling itself on a tree or one of the 
park's many statues standing out with hid- 
eous clarity in my head. I did nof Just imag- 
ine my brother's funeral; I attended it. 
"BOBBY!" I shrieked. "COMEDOWN!" 

"WHEEEEEEEE!" Bobby screamed 
back, his voice faint but clearly ecstatic. 
Startled chess players. Frisbee throwers, 
book readers, lovers, and joggers stopped 
whatever they were doing to watch. 

THAT FUCKING THING!" I screamed, It 
was the firsf time I ever used thai particular 
word, so far as I can remember. 

"Til be all right ..." he was screaming 
at the top of his lungs, but I could barely 
hear him. I went running down Carngans 
Hill, shrieking all the way. I don't have the 
slightest memory of just what I was yelling, 
but the next day I could not speak above 
a whisper. I do remember passing a young 
fellow in a neat three-piece suil standing 
by the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt at the 
foot of the hill. He looked at me and said 
conversationally. "Tell you what, my friend, 
I 'm having one hell of an acid flashback. " 

I remember that odd, misshapen shadow 
gliding across fhe green floor of the park, 
rising and rippling as it crossed over park 
benches, litter baskets, and the upturned 
faces of the watching people. I remember 
chasing it. I remember how my mother's 
face crumpled and how she started to cry 
when I told her that Bobby's plane, which 
had no business flying in the first place, 
turned upside down in a sudden eddy of 
wind and that Bobby fmshec ms short but 
brilliant career splatfered all over D Street. 

Way things turned out, it would have 
been belter for everyone if it had turned 
out that way. Instead. Bobby banked back 
toward Carrigan's Hill, holding nonchal- 
antly on to the tail of his plane to keep from 
falling off the damned thing, and brought 
it down toward the pond at the center of 
Grant Park. He went air-sliding iive feet over 
it, then four . . . and then he was dragging 
his sneakers in the water, sending back twin 
white wakes, scaring the usually compla- 
cent (and overfed) ducks into honking in- 
dignant flurries before him, laughing his 
cheerful laugh. He came down on the far 
side, exactly between two park benches 
that snapped off the wings of his plane. 
Bobby New out of the saddle, thumped his 
head, and started to bawl. 

That was life with Bobby. 

Not that everything was :nat spectacu- 
lar — in fact, I don't think anything (at least 
until The Calmative) was quite that spec- 
tacular. But life with Bobby was a constant 
boggle. By age nine he was attending 

quantum-physics and advanced-algebra 
classes at Georgetown University. One day 
he blanked out every radio and TV on our 
street — and the surrounding four blocks — 
with his own voice; he had found an old 
portable TV in the attic and turned it into a 
wide-band radio broadcasting station. One 
old black-and-white Zenith, twelve feet of 
hi-fi flex, a coat hanger mounied on the roof 
peak of our house, and presto! For about 
two hours all four blocks of Georgetown 
could receive was WBOB . . . which hap- 
pened to be my brother, reading some of 
my short stories, telling moron jokes, and 
explaining thai the high sultur content in 
baked beans was the reason our dad 
tarted so much in church every Sunday 
morning. "But he gets most ot 'em off prefly 
quiet." Bobby told his audience of roughly 
three thousand, "or sometimes he holds the 
real bangers until it's time for the hymns." 

My dad, who was less than happy about 
all this, ended up paying a seventy-five- 
dollar fine and taking it out of Bobby's al- 
lowance for the next year. Life with Bobby, 
oh, yeah . . . and look here, I'm crying. Is it 
honest sentiment, I wonder, or the onset? 
The former. I think — Christ knows how 
much I loved him — buf 1 think I better try 
to hurry up a little just the same. 

Bobby had graduated high school, for 
all practical purposes, by the age of ten. 
But he never got a B.A. or B.S., let alone 
any advanced degree. It was that big, 
powerful compass in his head, swinging 
around and around, looking tor some true 
north to point at. He went through a phys- 
ics period and a shorter period when he 
was nutty for chemistry ... but in the end, 
Bobby was too impatient with mathemat- 
ics for either of those fields to hold him. He 
could do it, but it — and ultimately all so- 
called hard science — bored him. By the 
time he was fifteen, it was archaeology- 
he combed the rocky White Mountain 
foothills in the area around our summer 
place in North Conway, building a history 
of the Indians who had lived there. 

But that passed, too; He began to read 
history and anthropology. When he was 
sixteen my folks gave their reluctant ap- 
proval when Bobby requested that he be 
allowed to accompany a party of New 
England anthropologists on an expedition 
into South America. He came back five 
months later with the first real tan of his life; 
he was also an inch taller, fifteen pounds 
lighter, and much quieter. He was still 
cheerful enough, or could be, but his little- 
boy exuberance — sometimes infectious, 
sometimes wearisome, but always there- 
was gone. He had grown up. And for the 
first time I remember him talking about the" 
news. . . how bad it was. I mean. That was 
2003, the year a PLO splinter group called 
Sons of the Jihad set off a squirt bomb in 
London, polluting sixty percent of it for the 
next seventy years and making the rest of 
it extremely unhealthy for people who ever 
planned to have children (or to live past the 
age of fifty without developing some sort 
of cancer, for that matter). The year after, . 

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Ask for the smooth, amber taste of Dos Equis. It's not 
a dark, but has mote flavor than pale beers. A taste 
that towers above the trends. 

we tried to blockade the Philippines alter 
the Cedeno administration accepted a 
"small group" of Red Chinese advisers (fif- 
teen thousand of them, according to our 
spy satellites) and only backed down when 
it became clear that a) the Chinese weren't 
kidding about emptying the holes if we 
didn't pull back; and b) the American peo- 
ple weren't all that crazy about committing 
mass suicide over the Philippine islands. 
That was the same year some other group 
of crazy motherfuckers — Albanians, I 
think — tried to air-spray the AIDS virus over 
West Berlin. 

This sort of stuff depressed everybody, 
but it depressed the shit out of Bobby. 

"Why are people so goddamn mean?" 
he asked me one day. We were in North 
Conway, it was late August, and most of 
our stuff was already in boxes and suit- 
cases ... the place had that sad, deserted 
look it got just before we all went our sep- 
arate ways. For me it meant back to The 
Rut; for Bobby it meant Waco, Texas, of all 
places ... he had spent the summer read- 
ing sociology and geology texts — how's 
that for a crazy salad? — and said he 
wanted to run a couple of experiments 
down there. He said it in a casual way, but 
I saw my mother looking at him with a pe- 
culiar, thoughtful scrutiny in the last couple 
of weeks we were all together. Neither Dad 
nor I suspected, but I think my mom knew 
that Bobby's compass needle had finally 
stopped swinging and started pointing. 

"Why?" I asked. "I'm supposed to an- 
swer that?" 

"Someone better. Pretty soon, too." 

"Because that's the way people are built." 

"That's bullshit. I don't believe it. Even 
that double-X- chromosome stuff turned out 
to be bullshit in the end." 

"Because of economic pressures." 

"Also bullshit. The only people who really 
want to fight are relatively well-off. And the 
people they want to fight are also relatively 
well-off. Poor folks are too busy looking for 
something to eat." 

"Original .sin," I said. 

"Well," he said, "maybe that's it. I won't 
say it isn't. But what's the instrument?" 

"I'm not following you," I said. 

"It's the water," Bobby said moodily. 

"Say what?" 

"The water. Something in the water." 

He looked at me, 

"Or something that isn't," 

The next day Bobby went off to Waco. I 
didn't see him again until he showed up at 
my apartment wearing the inside-out 
Mumford shirt and carrying the two glass 
boxes. That was three years later. 

"Hi, Howie," he said, stepping in and 
giving me a swat on the back as if it had 
been three days instead of three years. 

"Bobby!" I yelled, and threw both arms 
around him in a bear hug. Hard angles bit 
into my chest, and I heard an angry hive 

"I'm glad to see you, too," Bobby said, 
"but you better go easy. You're upsetting 
the natives," 

146 OMNI 

I stepped back in a hurry. Bobby sel 
down the big paper bag he was carrying 
and unslung his shoulder bag. Then he 
carefully brought the glass boxes out of the 
bag. There was a beehive in one, a wasps' 
nest in the other. The bees were already 
settling down and going back to whatever 
business bees have, but the wasps were 
clearly unhappy about the whole thing. 

"Okay, Bobby," I said. I looked at Jiim 
and grinned. I couldn't seem to stop grin- 
ning. "What are you up to this time?" 

He unzipped the tote bag and brought 
out a mayonnaise jar that was half filled 
with a clear liquid. 

"See this ? " he said. 

"Yeah. Looks like water." 

"It is, with two important differences; It 
came from an artesian well in La Plata, a 
little town forty miles east of Waco, and be- 
fore I turned it into this concentrated form. 
there was five gallons of it. I've got a reg- 
ular little distillery running down there, 
Howie." He was grinning, and now the.grin 

iThat was 2003, 

the year a PLO splinter 

group called Sons 

' of the Jihad had set off a 

squirt bomb 

in London, polluting sixty 

percent of it 

for the next seventy years.^ 1 

broadened "Water's all it is, but It's the 

goddamnedest popskull the human race 
has ever seen, just the same." 

"I don't have '.no slighter, idea what you're 
talking about." 

"I know you don't. But you will. You know 
what, Howie?" 


"If the idiotic human race can just man- 
age to hold itself together for another six 
months, it'll hold itself together for all time." 

He held up the mayonnaise jar, and one 
magnified Bobb.y-eye stared at me through 
it with huge solemnity. "This is the big one." 
he said. "The cure for the worst disease to 
which Homo sapiens falls prey." 


"Nope," Bobby said. "War. Where's your 
bathroom? My back teeth are floating," 

When he came back he had not. only 
turned the Mumford T-shirt right side out, 
he had combed his hair — nor had his 
method of doing this changed, I saw. 
Bobby just held his head under the faucet 
for a while, then raked his lingers through 
his long, coarsely blond shag. He looked 
at the two glass boxes and pronounced 
the bees and wasps back to normal. "Not 

that a wasps' r.est ever approaches any- 
thing closely resembling 'normal,' Howie. 
Wasps are societal insects, like bees and 
ants. But unlike bees, which are almost 
sane, and ants, which have occasional 
schizoid lapses, wasps are lunatics." He 
smiled. "Like people." He took the top off 
the glass box contain ng '.he beehive. 

"Tell you what, Bobby," I said. I was smil- 
ing, but the smile felt much too wide. "Put 
the top back on and just tell me about it — 
what do you say? Save the Mr. Wizard 
demonstration for later. I mean, my land- 
lord's a real pussycat, but the super's this 
big bulldyke who smokes Odie Perode ci- 
gars and has thirty pounds on me. She — " 

"You'll like this." Booby sac as if I hadn't 
spoken at all — a habit as familiar to me as 
his. Ten-Fingers Method of Hair Grooming. 
He was never impolite but often totally ab- 
sorbed. And could 1 stop him? Aw shit, no. 
It was too good to have him back. I mean, 
I think I knew even then that something was 
going to go totally wrong, but when I was 
with Bobby lor more than five minutes, he 
just hypnotized me. He was Lucy holding 
the football arc promising r-e this time for 
sure, and I .was Charlie Brown, rushing 
down the field to kick it. "In fact, you've 
probably seen it done before — they show 
pictures ol it in magazines from time to time 
or in TV wildli'c docurren:ar es. It's nothing 
very special, but people have got a set of 
prejudices about bees." 

And the weird thing was, he was right— 
I had seen it before. 

He stuck his hand mo the oox between 
the hive and the glass. In less than fifteen 
seconds his hand had acquired a living, 
black and yellow glove. 

It brought back an instant of total recall: 
sitting in front of the TV, wearing footy pa- 
jamas and clutching my Paddington bear, 
maybe half an hour before bedtime (and 
surely years before Bobby was born], 
watch'pg with mingled horror, disgust, and 
fascination as some beekeeper allowed 
bees to cover his entire lace. They had 
formed a sort of executioner's hood at first, 
and then he had brushed them into a gro- 
tesque, living beard- 
Bobby winced suddenly, sharply, then 

"One of 'em stung me," he said. "They're 
still a little upset from the trip. 1 hooked a 
ride with the local insurance lady from La 
Plata to Waco — she's got an old Piper 
Cub — and flew People's irom there." 

"I think you ought to get your hand out 
of there," I said . kept 'waiting for some of 
them to fly out — I' could imagine chasing 
them around with a rolled-up magazine for 
hours after he bopped out, bringing them 
down one by one, like escapees from some 
old prison movie. But none of them had . . . 
at least so far. 

"Relax, Howie. You ever see a bee sting 
a flower? Or even hear of it?" 

"You don't look like a flower." 

He laughed. "Shit, you think bees know 
what a flower looks like? Uh-uh! No way, 
man! They don't know what a flower looks 


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like any more than you or I know what a 
cloud sounds like. They know I'm sweet 
because I excrete sucrose dioxin in my 
sweat . . . along with at least thirty-seven 
other dioxins." 

He paused thoughtfully. 'Although I must 
confess I was careful to, uh, sweeten my- 
self up a little tonight. Ate a box of choco- 
late-covered cherries on the plane—" 

"Oh, Bobby, Jesus!" 

" — and had a couple of MallowCremes 
in the taxi coming here." 

He reached in with his other hand and 
carefully began to brush the bees off. I saw 
him wince once more just before he got the 
last of them off and eased my mind con- 
siderably by replacing the lid on the glass 
box. I saw a red swelling on each of his 
hands: one in the cup of the lelt palm, an- 
other high up on the right, near what the 
palmists call the Bracelets of Fortune. He'd 
been stung, but I saw well enough whal 
he'd set out to show me: What looked like 
at least four hundred bees had investi- 
gated him. Only two had stung. 

He took a pair of tweezers out of his jeans 
pocket and went over to my desk. He 
moved the pile of manuscripts and trained 
my Tensor lamp on the place where, the 
pages had been — fiddling with it until it 
formed a tiny, hard spotlight on the wood. 

"Writin anything good, Bow-Wow?" he 
asked casually, and I felt the hair stir on the 
back of my neck. When was the last lime 
he'd called me Bow-Wow? When he was 
four? Six? He was working carefully on his 
left hand with the tweezers. I saw him ex- 
tract a tiny something that looked a little 
like a nostril hair and place it in my ashtray. 

"Piece on art forgery for Vanity Fair. 
Bobby, what in hell are you up to this time?" 

"You want to pull the other one for me?" 
he asked, offering me the tweezers, his 
right hand, and an apologetic smile. "I keep 
thinking if I'm so goddamn smart I ought 
to be ambidextrous, but my left hand has 
still got an I.Q. of about six." 

Same old Bobby. 

I sat down beside him, took the twee- 
zers, and pulled the bee stinger out of the 
red swelling near what in his case should 
have been called the Bracelets ol Doom; 
and while I did it he told me about the dif- 
ference between bees and wasps, the dif- 
ference between the water in La Plata and 
the water in New York, and how, goddamn! 
everything was going to be all right with 
his water and a little help from me. 

And oh, shit, I ended up running at the 
football while my laughing, wildly intelli- 
gent brother held it one last time. 

"Bees don't sting unless they have to, 
because it kills them," Bobby said matter- 
of-factly. "You remember that time in North 
Conway when you said we kept killing each 
other because of original sin?" 

"Yes. Hold still." 

"Well, if there Is such a thing, if there's a 
God who could simultaneously love us 
enough to serve us His own Son on a cross ' 
and send us all on a rocket sled to hell just 
because one stupid bitch bit a bad apple, 

150 OMNI 

then the curse was just this: He made us 
like wasps instead of bees. Shit, Howie, 
what are you doing?" 

"Hdld still and I'll get it out. If you want to 
make a lot of big gestures, I'll wait," 

"Okay," he said, and after that he held 
relatively still while I extracted the stinger. 
"Bees are nature's kamikaze pilots, Bow- 
Wow. Look in that glass box; you'll see the 
two who stung me lying dead at the. bot- 
tom. Their stingers are barbed, like fish- 
hooks. They slide in easy. When they pull 
out, they disembowel themselves." 

"Gross," I said, dropping the second 
stinger in the ashtray. 

"It makes them particular, though." 

"I bet." 

"Wasps, on the other hand, have smooth 
stingers. They can belt you all they like. 
They use up the poison by the third or fourth 
shot, but they can go right on making holes 
if they like . . . and usually they do. Espe- 
cially wall wasps. The kind I've got over 
there, You gotta sedate 'em. Stuff called 


set down the big paper bag 

he was carrying 

■and unslung his shoulder bag. 

■ He carefully brought 

out the glass boxes. There 

was a wasps' nest 

in one, a beehive In the other3 

Noxon. It must give 'em a hell of a hang- 
over because they wake up madder than 
ever," He looked at me somberly, and for 
the first time I saw the dark brown wheels 
of weariness under his eyes and realized 
my kid brother was tired, almost tired to 
death, maybe.- 

"That's why people go on fighting, Bow- 
Wow. On and on and on. We got smooth 
stingers. Nowwatch this." 

He got up, went over to his tote bag, 
rummaged in it, and came up with an 
eyedropper. He opened the mayonnaise 
jar, put the dropper in, and drew up a tiny 
bubble of his distilled Texas water. 

When he took it over to the glass box 
with the wasps' nest inside, I saw the top 
on this one was different — there was a tiny, 
plastic slide piece set into the top. With the 
wasps, he was taking no chances. 

He squeezed-the black bulb. Two drops 
of water fell onto the nest, making a mo- 
mentary dark spot that disappeared al- 
most at once, "Give it about three min- 
utes," he said, 

"What— " 

"No questions," he said. "You'll see. Three 

In that period he read my piece on art 
forgery . . . although it was already twenty 
pages long. 

"Okay," he said, putting the pages down. 
"That's pretty good, man. You ought to read 
up on how Jay Gould furnished the parlor 
car of his private train with fake Manets — 
shit, that's a riot — but it's good. Watch." 

Before I really knew what he was up to— 
I was musing on how much Gould might 
have paid for the fake Manets — he had re- 
moved the cover ot the glass box contain- 
ing the wasps' nest 

'Uesus, Bobby, quit it!" I yelled. 

"Same old wimp," Bobby laughed and 
pulled the nest, which was dull gray and 
about the size of a bowling ball, out of the 
box. He held it in his hands. Wasps Hew 
out and lit on his arms, his cheeks, his fore- 
head. One landed on my forearm. I slapped 
it, and it fell dead to the carpet. I was 
scared — I mean, really scared. 

"Don't kill em," Bobby said. "You might 
as well be machine-gunning babies. 
They're harmless, for Christ's sake. That's 
the point." He tossed the nest from hand 
to hand like an overgrown softball. He 
lobbed it in.the air. I watched, horrified, as 
wasps cruised the living room of my apart- 
ment like lighter planes. 

Bobby lowered the nest carefully back 
into the box and sat down on my couch. 
He patted the place next to him, and I went 
over, nearly hypnotized. They were every- 
where: on the rug, the ceiling, the drapes. 
' Half a dozen of them were crawling across 
the screen of my Curiis-Mathis. 

Before I could sit down, he brushed away 
a couple that were on the sofa cushion 
where my ass was aimed. They flew away 
quickly. They were all flying easily, crawl- 
ing, moving fast. There was nothing 
drugged about their behavior. But as 
Bobby talked, they gradually found their 
way back to their spit-paper home, crawled 
over it, and eventually disappeared inside 
again through the hole in the top. 

"I wasn't the first one to get interested in 
Waco," he said. "It just happens to be the 
biggest town in the funny little nonviolent 
section of what is, per capita, the most vi- 
olent state in the Union. Texans love to shoot 
each other, Howie — I mean, it's like a state 
hobby. Half the male population goes 
around armed. Saturday night in the Fort 
Worth bars is like a shooting gallery where 
you get to plonk away at drunks instead of 
clay ducks. There are more NRA-card car- 
riers than there are Methodists. Not that 
Texas is the only place where people shoot 
each other or carve each other up with 
straight razors or stick their kids in the oven 
if they cry too long, you understand, but 
they sure do like their firearms." 

"Except in Waco," I said. 

"Oh, they like 'em there, too," he said. 
"It's just that they use 'em on each other a 
hell of a lot less often." 

utes, but it's been almost an hour already. 

That happens to me sometimes when I'm 
running at white-hol speed, but I can't al- 
low myself to be seduced into these spe- 
cifics. I feel as well as ever — no noticeable 
drying of the membranes in the throat, no 
groping for words, and as I glance back 
over what I've done, I see only the normal 
typos and strikeovers. But I can't kid my- 
self. I've got to hurry up. "Fiddledeedee," 
said Scarlett, and all of that. 

The nonviolent atmosphere of the Waco 
area had been noticed and investigated 
before, mostly by sociologists. Bobby said 
that when you fed enough statistical data 
on. Waco and similar areas into a com- 
puter — population density, mean age, 
mean economic level, mean educational 
level, and dozens of other numbers — you 
got back a whopper of an anomaly. Schol- 
arly papers are rarely jocular, but even so, 
several of the better than fifty Bobby read 
on the subject suggested ironically that 
maybe it was "something in the water." 

"I decided that maybe it was time to take 
the joke seriously," Bobby said. "After all, 
there's something in the water of a lot of 
places that prevents tooth decay. It's called 

He went to Waco accompanied by a trio 
of research assistants — two of these were 
sociology grad students, the other a lull 
professor of geology who was on sabbat- 
ical. Within six months Bobby and the so- 
ciology guys had constructed a computer 
program that Bobby called the world's only 
seismographic picture of a calmquake. He 
had a slightly rumpled printout in his tote. 
He gave it to me. I was looking at a series 
of forty concentric rings with a diameter of 
six miles each. Waco was in the eighth, 
ninth, and tenth rings. 

"Now look at this," he said, and put a 
transparent overlay on the printout. More ■ 
rings; but in each one there was a number. 
Fortieth ring: 471. Thirty-ninth: 420. Thirty- 
eighth: 418. And so on. In a couple of places 
the numbers went up instead of down, but 
only in a couple (and only by a little). 

"What are they?" 

"Each number represents the incidence 
of violent crime in that particular circle," 
Bobby said. "Murder, rape, assault and 
battery, even acts of vandalism. The com- 
puter assigns a number by a formula that 
takes the population density into account." 
He tapped the twenty-seventh circle, which 
held the number 204, with his finger. 
"There's less than nine hundred people in 
this whole area, for instance. The number 
indicates three or four cases of spouse 
abuse, a couple of barroom brawls, an act 
of animal cruelty — some senile farmer got 
pissed at a pig and hit him with a shovel — 
and one involuntary manslaughter." 

At the center of Bobby's calmquake was 
the town of La Plata. To call it a sleepy little 
town seems more than fair. The numerical 
value assigned to La Plata was zero. 

"So here it is,-'' Bobby said, leaning for- 
ward and rubbing his long hands together 
nervously. "Here's this weird little sage- 
brush Garden of Eden. Here's a commu- 

152 OMNI 

nity of fifteen thousand, twenty-four per- 
cent of which are people ot mixed blood 
commonly called Indios. There's a moc- 
casin factory, a couple of Utile motor courts, 
a couple of scrub farms. That's it for work. 
For play there's four bars, a couple of dance 
halls where you can hear any kind of music 
you want as long as it sounds like George 
Jones, two drive-ins, and a bowling alley." 
He paused and added, "There's also a still. 
I didn't know anybody made whiskey that 
good outside of Tennessee." 

In short (and it is now too late to be any- 
thing else). La Plata should have been a 
fertile breeding ground for the sort of ca- 
sual violence you can read about in the 
police-blotter section of the local news- 
paper. Should have been, but wasn't. There 
had been only one murder in La Plata dur- 
ing the five years previous to my brother's 
arrival, two cases of assault, no rapes, no 
reported incidents of child abuse. There 
had been a number of armed robberies, 
but they had all been committed by tran- 

4He stuck 
his hand in the box between 

the hive and the 
glass, in seconds his hand 

' had acquired a 
living black and yellow glove. 

Suddenly he 
winced sharply, then grinned.^ 

sients ... as the murder and one of the 
assaults had been. The local sheriff was a 
fat old Republican gent with a pretty fair 
Rodney Dangerfield imitation and what 
Bobby believed to be the preliminary 
symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. His only 
deputy was his nephew. Bobby told me 
that he bore an uncanny resemblance to 
Barney Fife on the old Andy Griffith show. 

"Put those two guys in a Pennsylvania 
town similar to La Plata in every way but 
the geographical," Bobby said, "and they 
would have been out on their asses fifteen 
years ago. But in La Plata they're gonna 
go on until they die . . . which they'll prob- 
ably do in their sleep." 

"What did you do?" I asked. 

"Well, for the first week or so after we got 
our statistical shit together, we just sort of 
sat around and stared at each other," 
Bobby said. "I mean, we were prepared 
for something, but nothing like this. I mean, 
Waco doesn't prepare you for La Plata." 

He tapped the readout and the overlay, 
and I saw what he meant. The numbers in 
the last seven or eight circles dropped off 
radically: 83, 81, 70, 63, 40, 21, 5, 0. 

"It was the classic Holmes situation of 

the dog that didn't bark." Bobby shifted 
restlessly and cracked his knuckles. 

'Jesus, lhateitwhenyoudothat," I said. 

He smiled. "Sorry. Bow-Wow. Anyway, we 
started geological tests, then microscopic 
analysis of the water. I didn't expect a hell 
of a lot; everyone in the area has got a well, 
and they get their water tested to make sure 
they're not drinking borax or something. It 
there had been something readily appar- 
ent, it would have turned up a long time 
. ago. So we went on to submicroscopy, and 
that was when we started to turn up some 
goddamn weird stuff." 

"What kind of weird stuff?" 

"Breaks in chains of atoms, subdynamic 
electrical fluctuations, and some sort of 
unidentified protein. Water ain't really ^0. 
you know — not when you add in the sul- 
fides, iron, God knows what else happens 
to be in the aquifer of a given region. But 
La Plata water — you'd have to give it a string 
of letters like the ones after a professor 
emeritus's name." His eyes gleamed. "Bui 
the protein was the most interesting thing, 
Bow-Wow. So far as we know t it's only found 
in one other place: the human brain." 

Uh-oh. It just arrived, between one swal- 
low and the next; the throat dryness. Not 
much as yet but enough for me to break 
away and get a glass of ice water. I've got 
maybe forty minutes left. And oh, Jesus, 
there's so much I want to tell! About the 
wasps' nests they found with wasps that 
wouldn't sting; about the fender bender 
Bobby and on'e.of his assistants saw where 
the two drivers — both male, both drunk, 
and both about twenty-lour (sociological 
bull moose, in other words) — got out, shook 
hands, and exchanged driver's licenses 
and insurance information amicably. Well 
, . .oneofthem had insurance information; 
the other had no insurance at all. And of 
course, the guy without the insurance had 
clearly been at tault and had sustained 
about five hundred dollars' less damage. 
But here's this other guy, clapping him on 
the back and saying they can work it out. 

Bobby talked for hours — more hours 
than I have. But the upshot and the result 
were both the same: the stuff in the may- 

"We've got our own still in La Plata now," 
he said. "This is the stuff we're brewing, 
Howie, pacifist white lightning. The aquiter 
under thai area oi ioxas is deep but amaz- 
ingly large; it's like this incredible Lake Vic- 
toria driven into the porous sediment that 
overlays the Moho. The water is potent, but 
we've been able to make the stuff I squirted 
on the wasps even more potent. We've got 
damn near six thousand gallons now in 
these big steel tanks. By the end of the 
year we'll have fourteen thousand. By next 
June we'll have thirty thousand. But it's not 
enough. We need more, we need it faster 
. . . and then we need to transport it." 

"Transport it where?" I asked him. 

"Borneo, to start with." 

I thought either I had lost my mind or 
misheard him. I really did. 

"Look, Bow-Wow . . . sorry. Howie." He 
was scrumming through his tote bag again. 
He brought out a number of aerial photo- 
graphs and handed them over to me. "You 
see? You see how tucking perfect it is? It's 
as if God suddenly busied through with 
something like And now we bring you a 
special bulletin! This is your last chance. 
assholes! And now we return you to Wheel 
of Fortune.' Or something like that." 

"I don't get you," I said. "And I have no 
idea what I'm looking at" Of course I did; 
it was an island — not Borneo itself but an 
island lying to the west of Borneo identified 
as Gulandio — with a mountain in the mid- 
dle and a lol of muddy little villages lying 
on ifs lower slopes. What I meant was that 
■ l-didn't know what I was looking for. 

"The mountain has the same name as 
the island," he said. "Gutandio. In the local 
patois it means grace, or fate, or destiny, 
or take your pick. But Duke Rogers says 
it's really the biggest time bomb on Earth 
. . . and it's wired to go off by October of 
next year. Probably earlier." 

The crazy thing's this: The story's only 
crazy if you try to tell it in a speed rap. 
which is whal I'm trying to do now. Bobby 
wanted me to help him raise somewhere 
between six hundred thousand and a mil- 
lion and a half dollars to do fhe following; 
first, -to synthesize fifty to seventy thousand 
gallons of what he called the high-test; 
second, to airlift all of this water to Borneo, 
which had landing facilities (you could land 
a hang glider on Gulandio, but that was 
about all); third, to ship it over to Gulandio; 
fourth, to truck it up the slope of the vol- 
cano, which had been dormant (save for a 
few puffs in 1938) since 1804, and then to 
drop it down the muddy tube of fhe volca- 
no's caldera. Duke Rogers was actually 
John Paul Rogers, the geology professor. 
He claimed that Gulandio was going to do 
more than just erupt; he claimed that it was 
going to explode, as Krakatoa had done in 
the nineteenth century, creaiing a bang thai 
would make the Hiroshima bomb look like 
a stick of dynamite and the squirt bomb 
that depopulated three quarters of London 
like a kid's firecracker. The debris from the 
Krakatoa blowup. Bobby told me, had lit- 
erally encircled the globe; the observed 
results had formed an important part of the 
Sagan group's nuclear-winter theory. For 
three months afterward sunsets and sun- 
rises half a world away had been gro- 
tesquely colorful as a result of the ash 
whirling around in both the Jetstream and 
fhe Van Allen currents, which lie forty miles 
below the Van Allen bell. There had been 
global changes in climate that lasted five 
years, and nipa palms, which previously 
had only grown in eastern Africa and Mi- 
cronesia, suddenly showed up in both 
South and North America. 

"The North American nipas all died be- 
fore the turn of the century," Bobby said, . 
"but they're aiive and well below the equa- 
tor. Krakatoa seeded them there, Howie . . . 
the way I want to seed La Plata water all 

154 OMNI 

over he earl- I war-; people to go out in 
La Plata wafer when it rains— and it's going 
to rain a lot alter Gulandio goes bang. I 
want them to drink the La Plata water that 
falls in their reservoirs. I want them to wash 
their hair in it, bathe in it, soak their contact 
lenses in it. I want whores to douche in it," 

"Bobby," I said, knowing he was not, 
"you're crazy." 

He gave me a crooked, tired grid. It 
wasn't until then fhat I saw how tired my 
brother was, how badly he needed a pace 
to sleep, to vacation from himself a while. 

"I ain't crazy," he said. "You wani to see 
crazy?Turn on CNN, B — . . . Howie. You'll 
see crazy, in living color." 

But I didn't need to turn on Cable News 
to know what Bobby was talking about. The 
Indians and ihe Pakistanis were poised on 
the brink. The Russians and the Chinese, 
ditto. Half of Alrica was starving; the other 
half was on fire. There had been bordei 
skirmishes along the entire Tex-Mex bor- 
der in the last five years, since Mexico wenl 


arrived, between one swallow 

and the next: the 
throat dryness. Not much as 

yet but enough for 
me to break away and get a 

glass of Ice water, 
I've got maybe forty minutes3 

Communist, and people had started call- 
ing the Tijuana crossing point in California 
Little Berlin because of the wall. The saber 
rattling had become a din. On the last day 
of Ihe old year the Scientists for Nuclear 
Responsibility had set their black clock to 
fifteen seconds before midnight. 

"Bobby, let's suppose it could be done 
and everything went according to sched- 
ule. You don't have the siightesl idea what 
the long-term effects might be." 

He started to. say something, and I 
waved it away. '■ 

"Don't even suggest that you do, be- 
cause you don't! You've had time to find 
this caimquake of yours and isolate fhe 
cause, I'll give you that. But do you remem- 
ber thalidomide 7 Or that nifty little acne 
stopper that caused cancer and heart at- 
tacks in thirty-year-olds? Or the AIDS vac- 
cine in 1994? 


"It stopped the disease, but it turned all 
the test subjects into epileptics." 


"Then there was — " 

"Bobby?" . - 

I stopped and looked at him. 

"The world," Bobby said, and then 
stopped. His throat worked. I saw he was 
struggling with tears. "The world needs 
heroic measures, man. I don't know about 
long-ierm effects, and there's no iime to 
study them because there's no long-term 
prospect. Maybe we can cure the whole 
mess. Or maybe — " 

He shrugged, tried to smile, and looked 
at me with shining eyes from which two 
single tears slowly tracked. 

"Or maybe we're giving heroin to a pa- 
tient with terminal cancer. Either way. it's an 
end to the whole mess." He spread out his 
hands, palms up, so I could see the stings. 
"Help me, Bow-Wow. Please help me." 

So I helped him. So we fucked up. 

I don't give a shit. 

We killed all the plants, but at least we 
saved the greernouse Something will grow 
there again someday. I hope. 

Are you reading this? 

My gears are starting to get a little sticky. 
For the firs! time in years I'm having to think 
about what I'm doing. Should have hurried 
more at the start. 

Well, of course we did it; distilled the 
water, flew it in, transported it to Gulandio, 
built a cog railway up the side of the vol- 
cano, and dropped over twelve thousand 
five-gallon containers of La Plata water — 
the brain-buster version — into the murky, 
misty depths of the volcano's caldera. We 
did all of this in just eighl months. It didn't 
cost-six hundred thousand dollars or a mil- 
lion and a half; it cost over four million, still 
less than a quarter of one percent of what 
America spenf on defense that year. You 
want to know how we razed it? I'd telt you 
if I had more thyme, bul my head's falling 
apart so never mine. I raised most of it my- 
self if it matters to you. Some by hoof and 
some by croof. Tell you the truth, I didn'f 
know I could do it muself until I did. But we 
did it, and somehow the world held to- 
gether and that volcano — whatever its 
name wuz, I can't remember and there iz- 
zunt time to go back over the manu- 
script — it blue just when it was spo Wait 

Okay.. A little better. Dilantin. Bobby had 
it. Heart's beating like crazy but I can think 
again. The volcano — Gulandio, by God — 
blue just when Dook Rogers said it would. 
Everylhing when skihi and for a while 
everyone's attention turned away from 
whatever and toward the skies. And bim- 
deedle-eee, said Scarlett! 

It happened pretty fast like sex and 
checks and special effex and everybody 
got healthy again. I mean wait 

Jesus please let me finish this. 

I mean that everybody stood down. 
Everybody started to got a liltle purs per- 
spective on the situation. The wurld started 
to get like the wasps in Bobbys nest the 
one he showed me where they didn't stink 
too much. There was three yerz like an In- 
dian sumer. People getting together like in 
that old Youn ntcmon 

everybody get together rite now, as in 
Shop-Riie where mom look me when I wuz 
in the babby seal and wt 

More Dilantin. Big blast. Feel like my 
heart is coming out thru my ears. But if I 
concentrate every bit of my force, my— 

It was like an Indian summer. Three 
years. Bobby went on with his resurch. La 
Plata. Sociological background, etc. You 
remember the local sheriff? Fat old Repub- 
lican with a good Henny Youngblood imi- 
tashun? How Bobby said he had the pre- 
limminary simptoms of Rodney's disease? 

concentrate asshole 

Wasn't just him; turned out like there was 
a lot of that going around in that part of 
Texas. All's Hallows disease is what I meen. 
For three yerz me and Bobby were down 
there. Created a new program. New graft 
of cirkles. I saw what was happen and 
carrle back here. Bobby and his to asist- 
ants stayed on. One shot hiself Boby said 
when he showed up here. 

Wait one more blast 

All right. Last time. Heart beating so fast 
I can hardly breeve. The new grafp, the last 
graph, really only whammed you when it 
was laid over the calmquake graft. The 
calmquake grafp showed acts of vilence 
going down as you approached La Place 
in the muddle; the Alzheimer's graft graph 
ghowed incidence of premature seenullity 
going up as you approached La Place. 
Peeple there were geting very silly very 
young bul bubby wasn't there long enough 
to see it or even how dogs got silly very 
yung altho he remebered something later 
if I had time to tell you. We didn't take any 
water but botled three years and wor big 
long sleekers in the ran. so no war and 
when everybobby started to get seely we 
din and I came back here because he my 
brother I cant remember what his name 

Bobby made me sick what he had dun 
only when he come here tongit crying I sed 
Bobby I lov you Bobby sed I'm sorry 
Bowwow Ime sorry I died it the world the 
hole world ful of foals and dumbbels and I 
sed better-fouls and bells than a big black 
sinder in and he cryed and I cryed 
Bobby I lov you and he sed will you give 
me some wadder and I sed yez and he 
said wil yu ride it down and I sed yez an I 
think I did but its if I cant remember I see 
wurds but dntnowhat they meen bt luzed 
to no 

I have a Bobby his nayme is bruther and 

I theen I am dun riding and I have a bocks 

to put this into thats Bobby sd full of quiyet 

air to last a milyun yrz so gudbo Im goin to 

stob gadbo bobby i love you it wuz nt yor 

fait i love you forgiv yu 

love yu 

sined (forthe-wurld), 



esses ol medical research. I'm never gonna 
win the Nobel prize, but it one of my sci- 
entists does, I'll certainly get a vicarious 
thrill out of it and feel that I've made some 
sort of contribution." 

Meanwhile, he's deeply frustrated that so 
many of his wealthy peers, all ot whom 
would like to live longer, are settling in- 
stead for secondhand immortality — leav- 
ing monuments to themselves in the form 
ol hospital wings and college funds and 
libraries engraved with the same name 
they'll have on their tombstone. "I tell them, 
Uust give one percent of your money to re- 
search; just wildcat it and maybe we'll strike 
the magic wishing well.' But they tend to 
be fatalistic about it. They somehow feel 
there's a 'they' out there that's doing their 
best to solve the problem — whoever 'they' 
are — and they refuse to understand that 
they are the 'they,' that it's we who are the 
'they' " he says, delivering one last impas- 
sioned plea to reason. 


Her father died of a heart attack when 
she was three; her much-adored mother, 
17 years later. The resulting pain and guilt 
caused Joan Smith-Sonneborn to decide 
against going into medicine; instead, she 
decided to learn things doctors didn't yet 
know about preventing the age-related 
diseases that orphaned her. 

Now fifty, Smith-Sonneborn has done 
work with one-celled paramecia that's a 
giant positive step in that direction. In 1971 
she heard about research showing that 
paramecia — unlike most life forms — 
seemed virtually immune to X-ray dam- 
age. She decided to find out why. Postu- 
lating that some form of repair was in- 
volved, she began a series of experiments 
in which she induced DNA damage in Par- 
amecium cells with ultraviolet radiation, 
then photore activated them to help erase 
that damage. This form of first aid, she dis- 
covered, did much more than that. Not only 
did the cells recover, they lived substan- 
tially longer than the never-damaged cells 
in her control group. Nature, she thought, 
was such an efficient housekeeper that the 
excess repair enzymes induced by the 
treatment cleaned up past as well as cur- 
rent damage, in effect reversing the aging 
process by some mysterious, delicate bal- 
ance of DNA damage and repair. 

The implications for human cells were 
inescapable. If some way could be found 
to induce such overly conscientious repair 
in human DNA, it might be possible not 
only to prevent the onset of age-related 
diseases, such as the cancer that killed her 
mother, but also possibly even to reverse 
that damage. 

Now a professor of zoology and physi- 
ology at the University of Wyoming in Lar- 
amie, Smith-Sonneborn, far from resting on 
those remarkable laurels, is using them as 

a stepping-stone to understanding how 
DNA repair works. From this she hopes that 
we can someday intervene genetically in 
the human aging process. 

Proving that real women do pump their 
own gas, Smith-Sonneborn fills up her Jeep 
at a self-serve and heads for her favorite 
retreat in Medicine Bow National Forest, 20 
miles outside Laramie. Vedawoo ("earth- 
born spirits"), once a sacred place of the 
Cheyenne, is still an evocative oasis of im- 
possibly balanced boulders and pine trees 
dispersing a fragrance as heady as in- 
cense. It's impossible in such a place not 
to believe in something, and Smith-Son- 
neborn does. "I'm not a practicing Catho- 
lic," she says, "but I do believe in God, a 
caring if perplexing God. There might even 
be a heaven and hell in the classical sense. 
not that I really want to leave my future up 
to Saint Peter. Besides, my life-force is so 
instinctively strong that no other state of 
being really appeals to me. I guess the 
component that drives me the most is a 
wonder for the universe and a curiosity for 
life. I can't imagine anything more satisfy- 
ing than feeding that curiosity." 

Going to .work each day is never a grind 
for her. though she admits two things would 
make her life happier: One is having her 
two sons with her (they're now away at col- 
lege); the other, she grins, is getting "a mil- 
lion dollars" to fund her work. "The interest 
alone could keep my lab work going for- 
ever." she sighs. 

Nondefensive and candid as only a well- 
loved daughter can be, Smith-Sonneborn 
cheerfully admits that another driving force 
is her personal aversion to and terror of 
growing old and dying: her fear of losing 
her looks, her strength, her intellectual 
acuity, her self. But even more intrinsic than 
that, she says, is the conviction, instilled by 
her mother and the Irish Catholic Church, 
that one should use one's God-given gifts 
to make a contribution, to give something 
back in return. "I really want to help hu- 
manity," she says simply. 


Oncologist and researcher Bill Regel- 
son, author of a two-volume text called In- 
tervention in the Aging Process and cur- 
rently a professor of medicine at the 
Medical College of Virginia, tends to be- 
lieve in some kind of afterlife because, as 
he puts it, "I've seen occasional patients 
dying of cancer, having incredible dia- 
logues with people on the other side." 

Not that Regelson, who also admits to 
an innate excess of curiosity, is in any hurry 
to check out this hunch firsthand. 

"I'm sixty years old. I'm not afraid to die," 
he protests, "but I don't want to be a victim 
either, If I'm gonna die, I want to fall apart 
like the one-hoss shay. I want to fall apart 
making mad love to somebody, in full com- 
mand and control of all my faculties," 

Regelson, brought up in the Jewish faith, 
is also quite orthodox in terms of his de- 
votion to his family. "My mother is eighty — 
a great lady — but she's suffering from ar- 

Ihrilis and vertigo. I'm at an age where I'm 
losing my aunts and uncles and seeing my 
colleagues suffering, and it's damn frus- 
trating because 1 think control of aging is 
feasible, probably in the next few years, if 
only the proper resources are given to it. I 
think I know how to do it. We've discovered 
the death hormone, we know how to con- 
trol it, but we need a couple hundred thou- 
sand to get going on this. I can't wait thirty 
more years for some graduate student to 
solve the problem!" he declares, his im- 
passioned words tumbling out at an auc- 
tioneer's breakneck pace, even at this nor- 
mally laid-back midnight hour. 

Nor does he expect the NIA or the med- 
ical establishment to come to the rescue. 
"They tend to see aging as a random col- 
lection of degenerative diseases instead 
ot a distinct syndrome that allows those 
diseases to come in. If you delay aging, 
you delay the disease," declares Regel- 
son, a man given to unqualified opinions 
who, he admits, gets "in trouble for being 
a lateral thinker and for bridging disci- 
plines." It you get out ol your field, explains 
this man of medicine turned man ol sci- 
ence, "people get mad at you, but this is 
the kind of thing I do and do very well," he 
concludes, shoving false modesty aside. 

It was Don Yarborough, whom Regelson 
calls a kindred spirit, who first got Regel- 
son interested in doing something about 
the dearth of aging research. In 1979 Re- 

gelson got together with Yarborough, 
Glenn, California senator Alan Cranston, 
and Dan Perry (a former Cranston aide) 
and formed FIBER (Fund for Integrative 
Biomedical Research), which "I headed up 
to stimulate research on the biology of ag- 
ing by raising necessary seed money to 
fund various studies, organizing work- 
shops and conferences, acting catalyti- 
cally to stimulate the field and identify areas 
that require forward movement." 

Like many good ideas, he sighs, "we 
folded due to lack of tunds. Also, Senator 
Cranston was the strong voice we needed, 
and when he got sidetracked running for 
President he kind of lost interest," he adds. 

"Right now everyone's caught up with 
this overblown vitamin-supplementation 
faddism, believing that taking this pill or that 
pill will make a difference — but there's 
simply no data to support that," he says. 
(Regelson does, however, take vitamin E, 
selenium, magnesium, pyridoxine, and Q- 
10.) "Then you've got hucksters like Pear- 
son and Shaw," he continues, "who are 
pushing things like arginine and BHT, which 
might be harmful." 

Regelson is convinced the difference will 
ultimately come through painstaking labo- 
ratory work. Currently, he's most intrigued 
with free-radical repair. Homo sapiens, the 
longest-lived mammal, not only has a 
higher scavenging system repairing free- 
radical damage) than other creatures, but 

also sports the highest levels of vitamin E 
and beta carotene, the free-radical scav- 
engers probably responsible for these 
higher repair rates. "Now, you can call this 
Regelson's theory because this is a mix- 
ture of concepts," he says. "But I'm con- 
vinced that if we-can get our bodies to ab- 
sorb and use more vitamin E, instead of 
pissing out the excess as we now do, we 
can repair our cells even more effectively. 
And so I'm supporting research to see if 
manipulating levels of calcium can affect 
the maximum concentration of antioxi- 
dants (including E) inside a cell and alter 
the pattern of senescence." 

Regelson intends to get the money he 
needs by becoming a multimillionaire him- 
self. Like Glenn and Brown he's currently 
involved in potentially lucrative research 
and development ventures. "We've now got 
our own company called VIGOR [Virginia 
Institute of Graduate Organized Re- 
search]," he says. "Our first producl is 
phospholipase-A2, a chemical inhibitor that 
might help alleviate inflammatory diseases 
like arthritis. We're also working on a hear- 
ing aid, about to be tested, and a hair- 
growth factor. What I intend to do is use 
my creativity and that of the people I work 
with to get new products into the market- 
place [hat will bring in the money I need. 
We've got good ideas and a good organi- 
zation, so I'm gonna succeed with that and 
the rest will follow."DO 


flashed the card across the talk hole, and 
the deal was struck. Comae had enough 
money to start a new life. I had Count Zero 
Interrupt, redeemable for a fast thirty-five- 
thousand-IPD profit. It would be a classic, 
textbook instance of buying low and sell- 
ing high. It was an outright steal. 

"I'll just convey him into my own room," 
I said, "and lock him up till after breakfast." 

I took the Count by the hind leg, and he 
let -out a squeal like the circus's antique 
steam calliope beneath [he fingers ol the 
Phantom of ihe Opera or someone like him. 

■ "Let me tote him for you," said Comae. 
He picked up the beast under his right arm, 
holding his snout gently in his left palm, 
and packed him into my room like a sleep- 
ing baby. It was poetry in motion. 

Insidethirty minutes I had lashed the pig 
onto a borrowed hotel cart with two shred- 
ded sheets, had rushed him down to the 
ground floor, and had raced with him 
squealing his head off through the scarlet- 
tinted passages leading to Kepler City's 
circus sector. I found the main administra- 
tive tent and was told by the usual officious 
little prick that Walter R. Brooks was inside, 
doing his morning meditation. I knew he 
would want to be interrupted, so I said it 
was urgent. This news was carried inside, 
and I heard a rather suave voice muffledly 
reply. "Certainly, certainly." Suddenly, I was 
standing before him. I must have looked 
like a farmer with a wheelbarrow, A wheel- 
barrow with a pig on it that was tied down 
with lime-hued decorator sheets. 

"Are you Walter R. Brooks?" I asked. 

"I swear it to you that I am," he replied. 

■ "Well, I've got it for you, sir." 
"Specify, specify. Are you the enriched 

gerbils for the As'aiic ov'hon or the alfalfa 
for the Sacred White Buffalo?" 

"Neither," I said. "Sir, I have got Count 
Zero Interrupt." 

"Is this a kidnapping? How much do you 
want?" He looked at me as if I were vermin. 
"Are you armed?" he asked. "No? Well, 
that's something. Johnson, get in here!" 

A nervous little man displaying five or six 
cross-purpose facial lies ran in. Johnson, I 
presumed. The darkness was closing 
around me, but I said the next of the sen- 
tences I'd rehearsed on the run: "I found 
Count Zero Interrupt rooting up the syn- 
thetic truffles in my truffle bed this morn- 
ing, and I've, ah, come for the reward." 

Walter R. Brooks sprang up, grabbed 
Johnson with one hand and me with the 
other, and ran with us in tow, literally drag- 
ging us behind him in the dust as he raced 
across the midway and into one of the 
sideshow tents. There before us was an 
elephantine, jet-black pig with a bejeweled 
lavender ribbon around his neck, lying on 
some hay and eating carrot after carrot (hat 
a pleasant, gnarled man in faded overalls 
was feeding him. 

"Thank God!" bellowed Walter R. Brooks. 

153 OMNI 

("Thank God!" echoed Johnson.) "The 
Count is safely at court and receiving." 

I pulled out the newspaper and showed 
it to them. It was my sole remaining ges- 
ture. But I knew that all was lost. After a. 
certain age you always know, 

"I already saw that, Mr. Brooks." said 
Johnson. "I knew it was some sort of joke 
or other piece of minor unpleasantness, so 
I didn't tell you about if earlier. I didn't want 
to spoil your meditation session, sir," I 
mean, this sniveling, genuflecting little 
hatchet man had Frank written all over him. 

"Thank you, Johnson," murmured Wal- 
ter R. Brooks with a voice that sounded 
trained in the art of sounding sepulchral. 

Both men turned to me in unison, giving 
the illusion of spinning on their heels like 
menacing terpschorear ".rouoers. And they 
were suddenly frowning at me in that mock 
way thai people do in ballets. Their coats 
even billowed a bit in what seemed a stage 
breeze. "Go quickly, and I won't call the 
police," said Walter R. Brooks. "You ob- 

looked out his window onto 

the circus beiow, 

his glance alone implying the 

Lilliputian status 

he attributed to the big-top 

workers, and his 

voice became tenser, silvery^ 

viously do not have the Count. And while it 
looks as if you may have been conned by 
somebody yourself lately, you are ob- 
viously running some feeble, outmoded 
con on us at the same time. Get out!" 

I turned and started lor the door, breath- 
ing a bit easier at walking one more time in 
my life out of something that could have 
been the screaming Bad. The police 
weren't there. I hadn't been stomped. I was 
not going to the Company's prison. My 
sudden financial ruin seemed secondary 
in importance^barely. But then Walter R. 
Brooks spoke behind me: "I believe, sir, that 
you may be forgetting something?" 

It would seem incredible that anyone 
could forget a half-grown, pink Hampshire 
hog lashed with green sheet hppings to 
what was. essentially a three-wheeled 
room-service cart. Non? 

..The Tricentennial had come and gone. 
Seven years later I was working the down- 
town street's of New Laredo over on Green 
Ball with the ancient pig partner I called 
Shocking Pink. At first I'd trained him to cap 
and shill — arts that basically only require 
of a crjtter suf'.ciert intelligence to do your 

basic Clever Hans routine. At a signal from 
me the pig would tap his hoof in front of the 
facedown care cove ring :he jack of hearts 
in three-card monte. He would always be 
right. The assembled crowd would laugh 
and applaud, and I'd quickly shout, "By 
God, folks, if a piece of the merest pork 
can follow the jack cf hears and nail him. 
then I must perforce believe that any of you 
can effortlessly do ihe same." Ho hum and 
you bet. (Later, I had him neurochipped 
and hardwired by some guys who owed 
me a favor. Got him to where he could deal 
the fucking monte, in fact: but that's an- 
other story.) 

It was a hot, bright day when Caligula 
Comae glided up beside me silently in a 
silver Chrysler Airstream minichopper. I 
could feel his smile upon' the pig 
although he said not a word. He had not 
aged, of course. In fact, corrective facial 
cosmetigrafts made him look even younger 
than on the two days I'd known him on Ptol- 
emy. He was wearing a weightless white 
suit and holding three long-stemmed red 
roses in one hand and a Pall Mall in the 
other. He was at home in the world. 

"Hello, mister," he said from the rear seat, 
where he sat alone. I recognized the 
chauffeur as little bootlicking Johnson, for- 
merly in the service of Walter R. Brooks, 

"Hello, Caligula," I said. I felt, as they say 
in literature, that all passion was spent. 
Saying hello was a civility I could spare. 

Three minutes of silence followed, 
punctuated by soft hog grunts. 

"See, the thing is, I had to lie to you about 
my orog ramming." 

"Why?" (Did I really care enough to ask?) 

"Because my true programming was 
profit-dissimulation programming, not pig- 
specific Fagin." He looked at me steadily. 
He could possibly have won my confi- 
dence. Possibly. "I was programmed to do 
what I did to you, mister." He lowered his 
eyes. "I'm sorry." 

JBsus. I! was instantaneously clear. How 
could I have been so stupid arc :- : ;. ■ 
seeing the truth? This Frank had been la- 
ser reamed from pituitary to paterae wBh 
the nefarious Buy High & Sell Low pro- 
gram: the infamous, cynical parody ol 
sound business practice that had nearly 
toppled that whole house of cards catted 
the Company up on Ptolemy four years be- 
fore my arrival. But how had he survived? 
They thought they'd caught all the Fra-ks 
with those total-con nervous-system pro- 
grams. They'd all been publicly hanged 
and burned, too. 

"I got away because 1 am deeply beSev- 
able," Caligula Comae said. "I can mate a 
grown man cry, no matter how powerM 
his own an.icor programming An; r = 
believability is in me. It is not program- 
ming. It is in me, mister. In here!" He hi his 
chest hard with both hands as he sad t 
His blue eyes cut through me. His ^ace 
flushed in passion. 

I felt the tiniest of tears begin to torn n 
my left eye, and I brushed it away witi re 
back of my hand. DO 



you can make copies," Minsky told me. 

Although Minsky doesn't think he'll live 
long enough to download (he's fifty-seven 
now), he would consider it, "I think it would 
be a great thing to do," he said. "I've spent 
a long time learning things, and I'd hate to 
see it all go away." 

Minsky also said he would have no 
qualms about waving good-bye to his hu- 
man body and taking up residence within 
a robot. "Why not avoid getting sick and 
things like that?" he asked. "It's hard to see 
anything against it. I think people will get 
ted up with bodies after a while. Then you'll 
have another population problem; You'll 
have all the people of the past, as well as 
the new ones." 

Another believer is Danny Hillis, one of 
Minsky's Ph.D. students and the founding 
scientist of Thinking Machines, a Gam- 
bridge-based company that is trying to 
create the kind of computer that might 
someday receive the contents of a brain. 
During my research several computer sci- 
entists would point to Hillis's connection 
machine as an example of a new order ol 
Copyright © 1986 by Grant Fjermedal. To be 
published in November by Macmillan Publish-- 
ing Company, cxc.erptst! Mi!h permission from 
The Tomorrow Makers: A Brave New World of 
Living Brain Machines, by Grant Fjermedal. 
160 OMNI 

computer architecture, one that's compa- 
rable to the human brain. (Hillis's connec- 
tion machine doesn't have one large cen- 
tral processing unit as other computers do 
but a network of 64,000 small units — 
roughly analogous in concept, if not in size, 
to the brain's network of 40 billion neuronal 
processing units.) 

"I've added up the things I want to do in 
my life, and it's about fifteen hundred years' 
worth of stuff," Hillis, now twenty-eight, told 
me one day as we stood out on the sixth- 
floor sun deck of the Thinking Machines 
building. "I enjoy having a body as much 
as anyone else does, but if it's a choice 
between downloading into a computer — 
even one that's stuck in a room some- 
place — and still being able to think versus 
just dying, I would certainly take that op- 
portunity to think." 

Gerald J. Sussman, a thirty-six-year-old 
MIT professor and a computer hacker of 
historic proportions, expressed similar 
sentiments. "Everyone would like to be im- 
mortal. I don't think the time is quite right, 
but it's close. I'm afraid, unfortunately, that 
I'm in the last generation to die." 
. "Do you really think that we're that close''" 
I asked. 

"Yes," he answered, which reminded me 
of something Moravec had written not too 
long ago: "We are on a threshold of a 
change in the universe comparable to the 
transition from nonlife to life." 


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got the number you're putting into a 
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Cryobiologists have had some success 
freezing other body paris. Scientists have 
frozen and ihawed the islets of Langer- 
hans, Ihe parts of ihe pancreas that pro- 
duce insulin. Again, when surgeons learn 
to control hostile immune reactions, they 
hope to use these frozen parts as surgical 
cures for diabetics. 

But Ireezing more complex body parts 
is difficult. So far no whole adult organ — 
animal or human— has been frozen and 
successfully revived for clinical use. As ice 
crystals form, cells dehydrate and shrink. 
When the water expands as ice crystals, il 
pops open vessels and lears up cell struc- 
tures. When thawed, the organ is so badly 
damaged it is useless. To complicale the 
problem, nol all freezing methods work lor 
all tissues; and even within the same organ 
different cells may require different rates of 
freezing and thawing, as well as different 
solutions, lo survive. 

For ihe presenf. most researchers are 
trying to extend the brief shelf life of organs 
harvesied from donors. Getting Ihe organs 
isn't easy; getting them in time is even more 
difficult. "Of the livers and hearts thai are 
available for donation," Fahy says, "ninety 
percent are thrown into Ihe wastebasket. 
You've got to get the organ to Ihe recipient 
within six hours. And that is generally im- 

Cryobiologisls have had some success. 
preserving kidneys. By perfusing them, or 
flushing the blood vessels with stabilizing 
fluids, and then cooling them to 32°F, they 
buy the transplant teams more time. Kid- 
neys can now be kept for as long as 72 
hours, and as a result the number of kidney 
transplants has jumped from an average 
of 500 per year to more than 5.000. 

Biochemist James Southard of the sur- 
gery department at the University of Wis- 
consin Hospital in Madison wants to do the 
same for livers. He has developed a new 
perfusion fluid and a technique he hopes 
to have ready by late 1987. The method 
extends the shelf life ot a liver from six hours 
to 24. He wants to refine the technique to 
buy even more time for other organs. "If we 
had more time," he says, "we could set up 
networks for efficient liver and heart har- 
vesting, and every patient who needed a 
heart or a liver could get one. " 

Gregory Fahy's hope is lo extend the 
shelf life indefinitely. "Twenty-four hours is 
a start, " he says, "but if you could preserve 
the liver and other organs in nitrogen when 
an organ donor dies and you don't have a 
recipient lor his organs^ you could just take 
them out and send them to the organ bank." 
Most cryobiologists think the break- 
through in preserving organs will come 
Irom Fahy's work. Considered a rising star 
in his field, .he has been working at the 
transplant laboratory at the American Red 
Cross in Bethesda, Maryland.. In his ex- 
periments with segments of animal kid- 

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neys, he has gotten the tissue to solidify 
without ice crystals forming. 

Fahy has spent years in the laboratory 
laking pieces of rabbit kidneys, immersing 
them in various cryoprotectants, freezing 
and thawing them al different rates, and 
then studying the damage under a micro- 
scope. Recently he's found an alternative 
to freezing. By infusing high levels of pro- 
tective agents into the organ slices, fie gets 
them lo vitrify — to cool and solidify — into a 
glassy slate without forming ice crystals. It 
is a little like the way Jell-0 changes from 
a liquid to a solid in the refrigerator. 

When will he do the same with human 
kidneys? "It's impossible to say. It might be 
in two years. It might be never. I just hope 
the day of cryopreserved organs will nol 
remain a dream lorever." 

An easier candidate for the long-term 
organ bank might be the heart, according 
to both Fahy and David Pegg, a longtime 
researcher with the cryobiology group at 
Cambridge University. Pegg mentions an 
experiment in which the hearts of rats were 
frozen and af;er thawing managed to beat 
weakly for a shorl while. "So a cryobank 
filled with body parts is not exactly the stuff 
of science fiction," he concludes. "It could 
happen one day." 

Already cryobiologists are pushing for 
clearinghouses of frozen tissues. Arthur 
Rowe says that over the next five years tis- 
sue banks will move toward centralized 
distribution of .all the commonly preserved 
items— like blood components, skin, and 
corneas. The society's journal carries an 
ad recruiting a cyoo-oogist to help set up 
a generic tissue bank in Atlanta. 

For the present. Rowe and other old- 
guard cryobiologists see little point in even 
attempting to freeze more complex parts 
like the head. Not only is the technology 
lacking, says Rowe, so is the incentive. 
"Brain transplants would have to evolve 
before it'd be worthwhile," he says. As for 
freezing the body, he points out scientists ' 
have already done the equivalent by freez- 
ing an embryo. Here is a potential human 
being, suspended in time for decades be- 
fore being brought to life. 

Cryonicists, however, remain hopeful that 
full-grown bodies can be Irozen. They pant 
to natural examples of suspended anima- 
lion. Creatures like some Alaskan beetles 
and Antarctic mites survive temperatures 
as low as - 8fTC thanks to built-in supplies 
of glycerol, a type of antifreeze. And recent 
findings indicate that certain amphibians 
like spring peepers and gray tree frogs 
routinely spend the winter in a state closer 
to death than hibernation. Their body tem- 
peratures drop to — 6°C, and their hearts 
stop beating; but with the warmth of the 
spring sun they revive and go hopping oft 
Biologists have discovered that more than 
a third of the frogs' bodies actually freeze 
solid and — in spite of this — avoid damage 
from ice crystals. 

"When the frogs go down [freeze], so do 
their kidneys, livers, and lungs. And if or- 
gans can freeze solid in frogs, the same 

162 OMNI 

should bs true- in 'iirnans." says physiolo- 
gist Paul Segall, a research associate at 
the University of California a! Berkeley. For 
the past several years he and colleague 
Harold "Frosty" Waitz. a biophysicist. have 
been trying to find the secret of sus- 
pended animation. 

In a series of experiments with golden 
hamsters done overlhe last few years, sci- 
entists anesthetized ihe animals and then 
packed them in ice io lower their temper- 
atures. At 12°C, Segall put the hamsters on 
a respirator as the animals' temperatures 
continued to drop toward C C. which is 
where ice begins to form. Gradually, he 
says, he replaced the hamsters' blood with 
cryoprotectant fluid. They were kept in this 
state for several hours and revived after 
their blood was transferred back. 

"They don't look great, but they are con- 
scious and moving," says Waitz. "What we 
did to those hamsters is very similar to what 
we did to that dog six months ago." Waitz 
points to the mutt frisking around at his feet. 
He is named Miles, after the character 
Woody Allen portrays in Sleeper, his film 
about a frozen human who awakens in ihe 
next century Miles appca's nealthy and in 
good spirits. Segall and Waitz are working 
with a veterinarian at the University of Cal- 
ifornia at Davis. They hope to chill a pri- 
mate to the ice point and try to revive it. 

The most exciting possibility of his work, 
Segall says, is not raising the dead but its 
applications in surgery and space medi- 
cine. Lowering a body temperature to the 
ice point offers the hope of bloodless sur- 
gery. As an example of things to come', 
doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 
Maryland cooled a patient to 19°C and by- 
passed blood around the heari. The pa- 
tient was "down" for some 40 minutes with 
the heart stopped. This provided the sur- 
geon with a bloodless field to work in. pro- 
tected the patient from bleeding to death. - 
and made it possible lor the surgeon to 
remove a tumor slrarg irg one of ihe heart's 
major blood vessels. 

These hypothermia techniques could 
provide short-term suspended animation 
for extraterrestrial medical emergencies, 
suggests Segall. Suppose flight surgeons 
miss a little black mole on the left arm of 
an astronaut sent on a mission beyond the 
asteroid belt. "On ihe way home the phy- 
sician onboard examines it and says, 
That's melanoma, and if you don't get him 
back, home quickly, you can kiss him 
goodbye.' What you could do [to stop the 
cancerous growth] is bring him down to 
minus ten Centigrade and leave him there 
for five months, like the frogs." 

Segall claims that mainstream cryobiol- . 
ogists have "emotional problems" with his 
work because it only encourages- cryoni- 
cists. What may disturb conservative cry- 
obio.ogists most is what's engraved on his 
Medic Alert bracelet. It instructs anyone 
finding-- him dead to call — collect — a 
cryonics company, Trans-Time Inc. The call 
will be answered in a cinderblock ware- 
house in Dakar id. Ca: : ioni&. If is next door 

to the Prince cl Peace I3apl s: Church and 
across the street from Bud's Auto Wreck- 
ing. Segall is both a customer and an offi- 
rer of Trans-Time. 

Inside the building four tanks stand on 
end. They resemble eight foot-tall thermos 
bottles and contain a total of six "patients." 
"They were put in head first," says Trans- 
Time president Art Quaife, broaching a 
subject most Gryonicists shun._ "If for any 
reason a capsule s:ar(s caking liquid ni- 
trogen, (he last thing to go is the head." It 
is something to worry about. Of an esti- 
mated 45 cadavers frozen over the last 
seventeen years, at least 30 have melted. 

In the middle of the warehouse stands a 
huge, ten-patient tank, readied tor the day 
when enough of Trans-Time's clients start 
dying. Whole bodies will be placed in 
sleeping bags, packed in Sfyrofoam-lined 
metal boxes, and lowered into the tanks, 
"When I die, I want to goin there," says 
Segall. gesturing toward the tanks. 

He admits that if the six customers al- 
ready in tanks were thawed today, "there 
would be a lot of damage." But he also be- 
lieves thai the genetic material of their bod- 
ies is intact. "I can't tell you those guys are 
going to get up and walk around someday, 
but we're going to thaw them with the 
knowledge of the laie twenty-first century." 

Mike Darwin has had a glimpse of what 
twenty-first-century cryonicists will see. He 
pulls out what looks like .a family photo al- 
bum. Inside are pictures of two headless 
bodies. The patients' trust funds could" not 
support the costs of whole-body storage, 
so he removed the heads and kept them 
frozen. He then performed autopsies on 
the bodies to check for damage. 

The snapshots of one male and one fe- 
male body are a ghastly off-white; but they 
look pretty fresh considering they've been 
dead six years. Darwin points out photos 
showing damage done to various body 
parts by freezing. "Here's a lung almost split 
in half." He turns to the next page. "Here's 
a better view ol the heart; that's ihe aorta 

He closes the album. "Given this, you 
might say these guys are lunatics to be 
freezing someone, but these fractures 
hardly disturb me. We knew we'd have to 
go in and make repairs inside ihe cells." 
Compared with that task, he argues, it will 
be easy to fix broken organs in the future. 
So he continues his work. 

A "suspension team" stands af the ready 
night and day to travel to dying ALCOR 
members Io prepare them lor freezing. 
Their most recent case occurred in the 
winter of 1985. Darwin and colleague Jerry 
Leaf learned that a member named "Mary" 
was only- days away from "deanimation." 
They flew at once to Madison. Wisconsin, 
where they stayed at Mary's hospital bed- 
side for three days and nighis. 
". "Quite sensibly she elected to have 
medication and IV support withdrawn," re- 
calls Darwin. i=i..jt to his su-pnse she go: 
better. "She joked about it and apologized 
for not dying on schedule." 




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At 2:48 in the morning, Mary deani- 
mated. Within minutes Darwin and Leaf 
coupled her to a heart-lung machine and 
rushed her to a nearby mortuary, where 
they began perfusion and cooling. They 
washed out her blood and replaced it with 
fluids they'd used in recent dog experi- 
ments, then they packed her in ice for 
shipment to California. 

Back at his office in Fullerton. Darwin told 
ALCOR members who'd come to help with 
Mary's suspension thai deanimation had 
been difficult. "I was with her at the end. 
holding her hand and comforting her," he 
says. After pertusing her brain with cry- 
oprotectants, they sawed off her head. 

They cooled il slowly, On Valentine Day 
it was placed in the aluminum "neuro con- 
tainer," Over the next 12 days Mary was 
chilled to -196°C as her head was grad- 
ually lowered into the liquid nitrogen. 

"There's a poem we like to quote," says 
cryobiologist Greg Fahy: 

"I really think that I could freeze 

My mother-in-law with the greatest of 


The only thought that gives me pause 

Is what will happen when she thaws." 

"Anybody frozen with the current tech- 
nology is going to have a tremendous 
amount of injury done to him," he warns. 
"The cyoncists recognize that. The big 
difference between cryonicists and cry- 
□biofogtSEs is the estimates of future repair 
capabilities. Cryonicists tend to be opti- 
mistic. In reality we don't know how it will 
turn out. We don't know enough' to evalu- 
ate the prospects for revival." 

One very basic problem with the cryon- 
icists is that "they are starting with people 
already dead," says Arthur Rowe. Preserv- 
ing living humans at some twilight level be- 
tween life and death may be more feasible, 
says Fahy. As a hypothetical example he 
mentions Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 in which 
the'voyagers are chilled — ano later fatal y 
warmed by a psychoiic computer, Hal. He 
admits the scene in which they are killed 
makes him uneasy "because one is so 
helpless in that state." 

Fahy points out that the astronauts are 
not frozen so. id— h<e the patents at Trans- 
Time, where body metabolism is ar- 
rested — but rather are in a state of hypo- 
thermic, hibernation, in which metabolic 
rates are slowed. "It's an intermediate type 
of process that we'd have some hope of 
achieving by 2001 or 2010 — if people were 
working on it now," he says. 

No one is, yet. For the most part, cryon- 
icists and cryobiologists still go their sep- 
arate ways. Today members of the Society 
for Cryobiology must sign a statement that 
"the act of freezing a dead body and stor- 
ing it indefinitely on the chance that some 
future generation may restore it to life is an 
act of faith, not science." 

.Still, some of the very biologists who 
signed this statement have So much faith 
in the future of their science they've 'paid 
to have their bodies frozen in li.quid nitro- 
gen when they die. DO 

AT A COOKOUT in Lynchburg, Tennessee 
you'll most surely sip some Lynchburg Lemonade. 
It's a country concoction that takes its name 
from the Tennessee town where our whiskey 
is made. You pour one part Jack Daniel's over 
ice with a like amount of Tiple Sec and Sweet 
and Sour Mix. Then, you add four parts 7-Up e 
and get sippin'. Our citizens have enjoyed this 
creation for innumerable 
summers here in 
Lynchburg. And, we 
believe, you'll find it equally 
refreshing no matter 
where you happen 
to live. 




We are on the verge of a 
new millennium. We will need 
new tools for this new age. 
Omni is therefore launching 
Star Tech as a means of pre- 
senting tools for the year 
2000. But this new column 
will contain more than just 
products and hardware. We 
will introduce you to "soft 
tools": new workshops, ser- 
vices, courses, software, 
excursions, books, innova- 
tive technologies, even new 
techniques for mind expan- 
sion. Often tools on the cut- 
ting edge are not so readily 
available, so in each story we 
have included an access 
guide for readers who want 
a head start on the future. Tell 
us what you think. 


Videocassette recorders 
(VCRs) still have one major 
consumer problem: It is 
cumbersome to program 
them to record off the air. 

Ironically, the technology 
that could move the VCR 
programming process light- 
years ahead is as near as the 
supermarket checkout 
counter. Right now many 
stores use optical scanning 
devices to read bar codes 
on products from canned 
peas to magazines. This 
same technology can be 
applied to TV listings. 

Tests conducted in Eu- 
rope, for example, are using 
VCRs equipped with "light 
pens and optical decoders 
to read TV-show information 
contained in bar codes. In 
Blaupunkt's VPS— Video 
Programming System— for 
instance, as the light pen 

scans a bar code printed 
alongside conventional TV 
text listings, the channel and 
start-and-stop-time infor- 
mation is sent automatically 
to the VCR's tuner/timer. 
Here in America, however. 
VCR marketers have shown 
little interest in light-pen pro- 
gramming. A major reason 
is their reluctance to stir up 
broadcasters by introduc- 
ing a feature that would 
make it easier to record pro- 
grams off the air. 

In Europe the challenge 
has been to persuade 
newspaper and magazine 
publishers to include bar 
codes in their TV listings. 
Current efforts under way in 
optical character recogni- 
tion technology, .however, 
' may soon eliminatethe need 
for the bar codes. The light 
pen would simply scan words 

and numbers printed to an 
industry-established stan- 
dard. — Marjorie Costello 

Access: Not yet available 
on the market; prototypes 
are currently being tested by 
Blaupunkt, in Hildesheim. 
West Germany. 


For anyone who hates 

trying on clothes and for 
salespeople who hate pick- 
ing up clothes after them, 
there isnow a machine thai 
obviates the need for both. 

Called the Magic Mirror, ft 
allows shoppers to see how 
clothes and accessories 
would look without actually 
trying them on. 

Here's how it works: A 
customer chooses gar- 

ments from a phoio disoiay 
of outfits, then steps into a 
darkened booth the size of 
a dressing room. As he 
stands in front of a full-length 
mirror reflecting only his 
head, a salesperson feeds 
information on his measure- 
ments and clothes size into 
the machine. Computer pro- 
jections of the photographs 
reflect a two-dimensional 
torso, wearing one of the 
outfits, onto the mirror, be- 
low the shopper's head. 

It's a bit like standing be- 
hind the cutouts of he-men 
at the county fair, and sirr 
larly. you get only a frontal 
view with the mirror. Each re- 
flection can be changed al- 
most instantly, allowing as 
many as 80 outfits to be 
"tried on" in less than ten 
minutes. Accuracy of fit is 90 
to 99 percent. 

"It's the twenty-first-cen- 
tury way of clothes shop- 
ping," boasts Bruno Lan- 
sing, president of Fashion 
Systems Corporation of New 
York-City, the American dis- 
tributor of Magic Mirror, in- 
vented last year by French- 
man Jean-Claude Bourdier. 

The r 

i the 

United States late last year 
at L. S. Ayres, a chain of 25 
department stores in 
Midwest. Sales soared. One 
line c" soortswear. Leslie Fay, 
jumped 867 percent in one 
month, according to store 
publicist Bob Wilson. 

— Gregg Levoy 
Access; Magic Mirror is 
scheduled to appear this fall 
in major department stores 
and specialty shops around 
the country. Distributed by 
Fashion Systems Corpora- 
lion, New York, NY. Phone: 





Want to ferret out a com- 
pany's deepest secrets? All 
you need are an old TV, a 
good antenna with an am- 
plifier, and $15 worth of spare 
electronic parts. 

According to Dutch com- 
puter-security expert Wim 
van Eck, a computer termi- 
nal acts like a radio, broad- 
casting whatever appears on 
the screen. "Eavesdropping 
on a video display is possi- 
ble at a distance of several 
hundred meters." he says. 
"All you ^^ need is a 

and-white TV, a directional 
antenna, and an antenna 

Just park a van across the 
street from your targel, aim 
your antenna into the right 
office, and whatever you 
want to know should even- 
tually appear on your TV. The 
only problem: Your TV won't 
be in step with tile terminal, 
and the picture will crawl 
around your screen like a 
coded cable program. But a 
"black box" that feeds the 
proper synchronizing sig- 
nals into your TV can relieve 
the problem. That's where 
the junk transistors come in. 

168 OMNI 

"The extension can be de- 
signed and built by any 
electronic hobbyist within a 
few days, "Van Eck says. 

Donn Parker, a computer- 
security specialist with SRI 
International, agrees that it's 
possible. "I've just spent 
most of the morning worry- 
ing about that problem," he 
comments. "I don't think it's 


By the end of the century, 
telephone users plagued by 
almost any kind of nuisance 
call will have quick re- 
course — a preset number 
that traces even the lightest 

as important yet as Van Eck 
believes. It's not quite as 
easy as he implies. But this 
is going to get much more 
troublesome as more peo- 
ple learn how it's done. Any 
securities broker would give 
his right arm to lay hands on 
a major company's quar- 
terly reports. ■ And govern- 
ment economic indicators 
are extremely sensitive." 

Now, let's see. What is the 
address of the Federal Re- 
serve Board? Does Paul 
Volcker keep a terminal in his 
'office? — Owen Davies 

Access: All parts avail- 
able of; the shelf. 

So says Robert W. Foster, 
who recently patented 'the 
system, along with Rosanna 
M. Lottes and Grant E. 
Swinehart, all stafl members 
at AT&T's Bell Laboratories 
facility in Naperville, Illinois. 

According to Foster, the 
telephone customer could 
take advantage of software 
equipment in the company's 
switching network by dialing 
a three-digit code that would 
produce a printed record of 
the nuisance call, including 
its point of origin and the 
number to which it was 
made. "You would file your 
complaint, and AT&T would 

provide the evidence," Fos- 
ter says. The code number 
could cause both the called 
and the calling numbers to 
be automatically transferred 
to a central office or to a po- 
lice s:ation. "As we looked at 
the technology," Foster ex- 
plains, "we realized we had 
the capability to do this," al- 
though he admits it may take 
a number of years to refine 
the system. 

One of the wrinkles that 
must still be ironed out is the 
method of billing for this ser- 
vice, which should go a long 
way toward cutting down on 
obscene, threatening , or just 
plain annoying calls. Pre- 
sumably, says Foster, pre- 
rogs".e r ed customers could 
arrange to pay either on a 
montnly-fee basis or by the 
individual trace (no more 
than $5 to $10 each), de- 
pending on the number of 
nuisance calls received. 

— George Nobbe 

Access; Through AT&T, 
probably by the late 1990's. 


The self-help business has 
used subliminal stimulation 
for years in audi ocas series, 
videotapes, and even wall- 
paper. Now you can use your 

With a software package 
called Subliminal Sugges- 
tions and Self Hypnosis for 
Your Computer, compli- 
ments of the New Life Insti- 
tute in .Santa Cruz, Califor- 
nia, computer users can 
punch in any self-help mes- 
sage desired and have it 
Cash trelessly and all but in- 
visibly across the top of the 

terminal while ihey work. 

~he subliminal mes- 
sage — one thai bypasses 
the censors of the con- 
scious mind — will flash at in- 
tervals of one thirtieth of a 
second, allowing you to re- 
ceive nearly 30,000 favor- 
e flashes in an eight-hour 
day. Any one-tine message 
can be programmed in 
(Ihouyi you need an IBM PC 
or compatible machine), 
whether you want to lose 
weight, quit smoking, im- 
prove your memory, or stop 
biting your nails. 

Joel Amkraut, president of 
New Life, which is primarily 
" i ihe self-help cassette 
business, calls his $75 soft- 
ware "effortless self-im- 


Tired of wires? We need 
them to hook up ourTV sets, 

VCRs, and stereos, but Ihey 
are a nuisance. The next 

trend in the electronics rev- 
olution? Wireless hookups. 

Electronics entrepreneur 
John Nady is in the van- 
guard of this movement, 
having invented a wireless 
guitar and .microphone for 
performers. Nady, called the 
"wizard of wireless," uses 
radio frequency (RF) signals 
to link up equipment. But the 
Federal Communications 
Commission limits the use of 
RF in the home because of 

provement. It's a puritan 
ethic that you have to suffer 
to improve. You don't. Let the 
computer do the work." 

While studies indicate that 
subliminal stimulation works, 
Amkraut admits there is a 
dark side to it. It is possible. 
he says, for an unscrupu- 
lous employer to program an 

■nployee's terminal with 
sei : -servng messages ("Mr. 
Smith, you are perfectly sat- 
isfied with your present sal- 
ary's—Gregg Levoy 

Access: Software avail- 
able from New Life Institute, 
Box 2390, Santa Cruz, CA 


Last year, however, the 
FCC did relax some of its 
rules on RF use. This change 
made it possible for Nady's 
company to introduce its first 
wireless stereo speaker sys- 
tem. If more rules are re- 
laxed, we may soon em- 
brace a truly wireless 
future. — Marjohe Costello 

Access.- Wireless speak- 
ers are available from Nady 
Systems, 1145 Sixty-fifth 
Street, Oakland. CA 94608. 


Little girl: I love you. 

Teddy bear; I love you, too. 

Girl: Do you want to play? 

Teddy: Yes, let's have fun. 

This is a dialogue be- 
tween a child and Sing-Sing, 
an 18-inch-high, voice-inter- 

active toy panda designed 
by the Audec Corporation of 
Saddle Brook. New Jersey. 

Beneath its tur the ursine 
interlocutor boasts two 
computer chips that convert 
analog speech sounds to a 
digital format, store ihe for- 
mat, and activate the stored 
format upon recognizing a 
word. After purchase the 
bear can be programmed to 
identify its young owner's 
voice and respond to five set 

Because voice recogni- 
tion is "speaker dependent." 
if the- child's mother should 
address Sing-Sing, she 
might be met with a baffled 
"Sorry" or "Please respond." 
Presumably this trait would 
be popular with many a five- 
year-old. — Judith Hooper 

Access: At present Sing- 
Sing is sold ($79.95) only by 
catalog, from the INTV Cor- 
poration. 21535 Hawthorne 
Boulevard, Suite 223, Tor- 
rance, CA 90503. 





W*fr^ . -?fi% 

y^ K .:-.-.,. .. 


...■ .;. 

We've all heard about the Mrs! man on 
[he moon, [he first words spoken on 
[he moon, the first step, and so on. But 
who remembers the first car on the 
moon? Known as Ihe Lunar Rover Ve- 
hicle (LRV), or simply Rover, [he "car" 
was a 462-pound, batlery-powered 
Iwo-seater cart wi!h [our-wheel drive. 
It sported joystick controls, like the 
original horseless carriages. Astro- 
nauts Jack Irwin and David Scott look 
Rover for its first spin as part of the 
1971 Apollo 15 mission. 

The vehicle was no Ferrari; it had a 
top speed of 11 miles an hour (a lunar 
record that still stands) ll also had a 
tendency to fishtail at high speeds— 
around 10 miles an hour. Designed lor 
the rugged lunar landscape, it could 
cross crevasses more than two feet 
wide and climb slopes of 25° The four 
tires, made of steel mesh, had a life 
expectancy of 112 miles. Thanks to 
Rover, two learns of astronauts were 
able to explore miles of moonscape 
and collect invaluable samples Ihal 
they brought back to Earth. 

We are asking Omni readers to think 
about what the next wheeled vehicle 
on the moon should be. Unlike ihe 
Rover it would be built strictly for fun, 
to competein the Omni 2000. a course 
that would lake the lunar racers to each ' 

Dream up the 
vehicle that will win the 

Omni 2000 Moon 
Rally, and win yourself 

a trip that 
is right out of this world 


of [he six sites where astronauts 
landed as part of the Apollo program. 
Mapped on the photo at left, the route 
covers around 2,600 miles as the 
rocket flies. A lough course, it cuts 
through both ihe flat lowlands and the 
rugged highlands of the moon. 

The race begins and ends at Tran- 
quillity Base, the site of the first moon 
landing Racers cross Armstrong Flais 
on the Sea of Tranquillity, round "Buzz's 
Bend," and traverse [he Sea ol Seren- 
ity; ihen Ihey drive along the Apen- 
nine Mountains, across the Ocean of 
Storms, heading soulhward along "Ir- 
win's Alley," and finally norihward lo 
ihe checkered Hag. 
' Omni is asking its readers to design 
a second moon buggy, a recreational 
vehicle lhat could compeie in Ihis 
contest in 2086. 

Here are some facts you should 
know about local driving conditions; 

• There is no atmosphere lo speak of 
on the moon: It's practically a vac- 
uum. Therefore, standard internal- 
combustion engines will not work. Thai 
leaves electric motors, solar power, 
nuciear power, rocket power, even 
rubber-band power — anything lhat 
doesn't require oxygen. 

• The gravity on the moon is one sixth 
thai of Earth, so vehicles need less 




sense, then another, and I knew I was onto 
something. Aging rate, I reasoned, varied 
from species to species, but the process 
of aging was the same. No matter what the 
species, once aging set in, everything — 
eyes, ears, reflexes, muscles — seemed to 
go more or less at once. Every tissue of the 
body, in essence, was run by the same ag- 
ing clock. Comparative physiology sug- 
gested some common master gene of 
regulation, altered slightly among species. 
To increase longevity we didn't need to in- 
vent new body processes or genes. It had 
to be a small number of control genes turn- 
ing the volume, the quantity of certain lon- 
gevity biochemicals, up or down. We might 

already possess the basic genetic makeup 
for a life span of four hundred years. I 
couldn't wait to test these ideas. 
Omni: How could you prove that notion? 
Cutler: One way was through a technique 
commonly used in evolutionary biology: To 
learn how many genes determine a char- 
acteristic, you ask how long it took the 
characteristic to evolve. If, for instance, a 
hundred thousand genes are involved in 
human longevity, a longer life span would 
take longer to evolve than if two hundred 
genes were involved. That's just the way 
evolution works. I needed to learn human 
longevity had actually evolved. 
Omni: You'd have to measure the life span 
of extinct species— and they're already 

Cutler: George Sacher had the key when 
he showed that you could calculate MLSP 

by comparing brain size to body weight. 
Well, I checked out his formula for a whole 
range of species, from recently evolved 
primates to the opossum, which has been 
around in its present form for millions of 
years. This doggone formula seemed to 
work across the board. I didn't see why it 
shouldn't work for completely extinct spe- 
cies as well. So I went back to the litera- 
ture, digging up the anthropologists' 
measurements of fossils. They had calcu- 
lated the brain size and body weight of pri- 
mate species as they'd evolved over mil- 
lions of years. I discovered that longevity 
generally increased during primate evolu- 
tion, butai different rates, depending upon 
the lineage, be it squirrel monkey, ape, or 
baboon. But for hominid lineage, the rate 
kept going up faster and faster Ihe closer 
you got to modern man. The line on my 
graph went almost straight up. For the last 
few million years longevity could only 
change at that pace if it involved no more 
than six tenths of a percent of the entire 
genome, roughly six hundred genes. 
Omni: Then longevity is evolving still? 
Cutler: Not at all. Evolution of longevity, like 
the evolution of brain size, has come to a 
total halt. I found that Neanderthal men, for 
instance, had longer MLSPs than Homo 
sapiens. Researchers also found the re- 
mains of hominids with superbrains and. 
according to my calculations, superlong lite 
spans. They probably looked like men from 
Mars, but the trait didn't prevail. 

I calculated that hominid longevity in- 
creased an astounding fourteen years over 
the last hundred thousand years. But about 
fifty thousand years ago the rate at which 
longevity increased fell to zero because of 
the specific way we evolved. Our ances- 
tors lived in small, traveling communities 
generally led by a single chief with supe- 
rior traits. Because he passed on more of 
his genes than anyone else, these were the 
ones that took. If another individual, with 
yet more potent traits, arrived on the scene, 
he would take over, and his genes would 
propel evolution further still. With the ad- 
vent of civilization, these traveling bands 
disintegrated; because everyone had a 
more or less equal chance to reproduce, 
selection for superior traits, including in- 
creased longevity, stopped. 

Another factor that probably played a role 
is a process known as neoteny. Neoteny 
means the retention into adulthood of early 
developmental features. Individuals take on 
increasingly childlike features — greater 
brain-to-body ratio, larger eyes, sparser 
hair. The larger brain necessitates a longer 
period for learning, so neotenous species 
spend more time in childhood; develop- 
ment is essentially stretched out so that 
every phase of the life cycle expands. As 
generations passed, individuals simply 
became increasingly neotenous until 
eventually we had modern man. A normal 
adult Homo sapiens has the same brain- 
to-body ratio as a baby chimp. He takes 
twice as long as the chimp to reach ado- 
lescence, spends twice as much time in 

the prime of adulthood, and takes twice as 
long to die. 

After a while, though, our physiology 
forced the process of neoteny to a halt: We 
simply reached the point where il was im- 
possible to give birth to more neotenous, 
larger-brained children without warping the 
female's pelvis, totally destroying her gait, 
and impeding her ability to walk. With in- 
creasing neoteny impossible, (he evolution 
of longevity stopped. 
Omni: What a sweeping theory. What was 
the response? 

Cutler: It thrust me into the blackest period 
of my career. It was 1975, and the Pro- 
ceedings of the National Academy of Sci- 
ences sent my paper to George Sacher for 
review. He claimed I'd stolen all the ideas 
from him and rejected it. I found that in- 
credible because I'd been communicating 
with him all along. We even co-organized 
a meeting three months prior to this in which 
I'd presented a paper on the same data. 
And his only comment at the time had been 
"fascinating." The academy decided to 
publish my paper anyway but asked me to 
acknowledge that Sacher had arrived at 
similar data independently. But Sacher was 
bitter and acrimonious and even formed 
his own clique of supporters. Before he 
died, in 1982, he wrote one last chapter 
claiming everything I ever did as his own. 
The matter has not been resolved, and 
people still say, "Cutler stole the data be- 
cause he had trouble getting grants." Or, 
"He did It because he was too ambitious." 
Being accused of that was terribly upset- - 
ting. It hounds me. It diminishes everything 
I've done. But I try to follow my wife's ad- 
vice: 'Uust keep going. Just continue. Peo- 
ple will see where the ideas are coming 

I had political problems everywhere, but 
I was finally put in touch with Don Yarbor- 
ough, a philanthropist who was interested 
in aging research. He and his friends ended 
up supporting me. Don eventually intro- 
duced me to another philanthropist, named 
Paul Glenn, who helped me pay the salary 
of a lab technician. This money was what 
scientists call soft, but at least I was gen- 
erating enough of it to keep myself and my 
research going. A year after the Sacher fu- 
ror, I left Dallas for what I thought would be 
a better opportunity — my current, tenured 
job at the Gerontology Research Center, 
part of the National Institute on Aging. 
Omni: So things improved? 
Cutler: Not at all. I'd been here for just a 
few months when the man who hired me 
left. As new man on the block with these 
far-out ideas, I received little support. But 
Yarborough and Glenn supplied money for 
technicians. And my wife is still here sup- 
plying her expert services. 
Omni: Despite difficulties, you kept on? . 
Cutler: Yes, and my first goal was to figure 
out what actually causes aging. There were 
two points of view. The more popular no- 
tion was that we had aging genes that pro- 
grammed the production of a death hor- 
mone — because aging and death 

benefited evolution by killing off the old to 
make room for the new. Proponents of this 
idea suggested a Disneyland explanation 
for the death of animals in the wild: As rab- 
bits grow old, crippled, and weak, wolves 
kill them off. But that's not the way it is at 
all. There aren't enough enfeebled rabbits 
tor all the wolves. Instead, wolves kill healthy 
rabbits in a mostly random kind of way. Most 
rabbits are killed by natural predators while 
very young. No wild animal lives long 
enough to get old. The problem in nature 
has never been that animals live too long — 
it's quite the opposite — to stay alive to a 
decent reproductive age. So there 'd never 
be any pressure to evolve a hormone pro- 
moting aging and death. 
Omni: You reject the dogma that aging is 
genetically programmed into all individu- 
als for the good of the species? 
Cutler: That's right. So let's consider the 
other alternative: Aging is the by-product 
of normal metabolic and biochemical 
processes necessary for survival. Look at 
the hormones we produce at puberty. 
When scientists castrated Pacific coast 
salmon, they found that the fish, never pro- 
ducing sex hormones or reaching sexual 
maturity, lived about twice as long. You 
must become sexually mature to survive, 
but there's a price to pay. Other examples 
are the highly reactive particles, free radi- 
cals, you produce in metabolizing oxygen. 
You have to breathe in order to function, 
but you pay a price — free radicals that 
damage DNA. In nature, where most crea- 
tures are killed by predators and other 
hazards, the harmful aspects of these 
processes never come into play, because 
animals simply do not live long enough. But 
for humans living in the civilized world, 
these by-products cause aging. Because 
our basic biochemistry is virtually identical 
to that of the chimp, we must have better 
ways of coping with the same toxic by- 
products, agents of DNA damage, aging, 
and death. 

Omni: How does DNA damage, per se, re- 
sult in aging? 

Cutler: Through a process called dysdil- 
ferentiation, which is essentially develop- 
ment in reverse. We all start from a single 
fertilized egg that develops by dividing and 
differentiating so that many difterent types 
of cells emerge. We have blood, brain, 
muscle cells, and so on. Free radicals pro- 
duced in a cell can alter the proper differ- 
entiated state of the cell. For instance, brain 
cells have been found to produce hemo- 
globin, a protein previously produced only 
by blood cells. As the brain cells continue 
to produce hemoglobin, the brain be- 
comes just a bit less efficient. And other 
parts of the body undergo this process as 
well; kidney cells may begin to function a 
bit like liver cells, for instance, and stom- 
ach cells begin to produce proteins previ- 
ously specific to the intestines. After a while 
you can't run the four-minute mile. Small 
and subtle departures from the optimum 
state occur over time, and very little change 
is required to account for the aging proc- 

The Mysteries 
of Mind 


Man is not just an isolated entity on 
Earth. He is also of a greater world— ike 
Cosmos. The forces that create galaxies 
and island universes also flow through 
man's being. The human body and its 
vital phenomenon — Life— are of r.hc same 
spectrum of energy of which all creation 
consists. The universe i s you beca use you 
are one of its myriad forms of existence. 
Stripping away the mystery of these 
(Josmic forces within von increases the 
personal reality of the Self. There is no 
adventure greater than the exploration 
of Self. 

This Free Book 

The Rosicrucians, a worldwide cul- 
tural organization, have shown thou- 
sands of men and women how to ration- 
ally explore their inner world of Self. A 
vast psychic realm lies just beyond your 
conscious mind. It is a link with your 
potential creativity and attainment. Not 
magic, not fantasy, but a revelation of 
the fullness of your being. Write today for 
a free copy of the Mastery of Life. It tells 
how you can learn and use more of what 
you are. 

The Rosicrucians are; 

• Not a religion 

• Non-political 

• Non-profit 

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ess. My theory is that free radicals, along 
with other active chemicals, make the dys- 
dilferentiation occur. Thus the mecha- 
nisms that keep a cell in its proper slate of 
differentiation might be (he very ones that 
determine the longevity of an animal. 

If Iree radicals cause aging, then some 
species live longer because they have 
better ways of fighting them off. So you'd 
expect longer-lived species to have higher 
levels of antioxidants, substances that 
neutralize free radicals. Finding higher lev- 
els of protective antioxidants in the tissue 
of longer-lived species would be the acid 
test of this idea. Thai's what I set out to do. 
Omni: What antioxidant did you look at? 
Cutler: I chose superoxide dismutase 
[SOD], whose only known role is to protect 
against free radicals. It's present in all 
creatures from bacteria to man, and it's re- 
quired for survival. We tested humans, 
chimpanzees, gorillas, rhesus monkeys, 
and a few short-lived' species, including 
guinea pigs and mice. We found a beauti- 
ful linear correlation: Longer-lived species 
had more SOD to protect against a given 
quantity of free radicals than did shorter- 
lived species. When I repeated the exper- 
iment for other antioxidants, including vi- 
tamin E, beta carotene, and uric acid, the 
correlation held lirm. What's so nice is that 
these findings fit into the control-gene the- 
ory. Just turn up the production of antioxi- 
dants, which all species have, and longev- 
ity increases. 

Omni: Could I slow my aging by consum- 
ing some antioxidants? 
Cutler: Not if you're already at the optimum 
level for your species. In lhat case raising 
the level of one antioxidant will probably 
lower the tevel of all others. That makes 
good biological sense — if life span is im- 
portant to the evolutionary success of an 
animal, it won't be manipulated in a trivial 
way. tt's going to have a set point of regu- 
lation, just like body temperature. And like 
body temperature, it will stay constant un- 
der a wide range of conditions. So the hu- 
man MLSP is at most one hundred and ten 
years, no matter what the nationality, life- 
style, and nutrients consumed. 
Omni: But tl there's an optimum set point 
for humanity at large, certainly whole 
groups of people fall below. 
Cutler Indeed they do. If antioxidants play 
a role in lite span, perhaps some individu- 
als live longer than others because they 
just happen to have higher set points. An- 
tioxidant protection might vary within our 
species, just like eye color or height. 

The first spinoff of all my research will be 
a technique for diagnosis. People with ab- 
normally low levels of antioxidants might 
age abnormally last: with my technique 
they'll bediagnosed, and supplements will 
boost their antioxidants until the optimum 
level is reached, 

We're developing a battery of assays to 
determine how much antioxidant protec- 
tion you've actually got. For example, we 
analyze urine samples for thymidine gly- 
col, a by-product of DNA damage. When- 


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ever a piece ol DNA is damaged, thymi- 
dine glycol is removed. Because the mol- 
ecule is, stable, it's never degraded but 
simply finds its way into the urine. Knowing 
how much thymidine glycol you're peeing, 
I can calculate your total body DNA dam- 
age load, 

Omni: Trie more thymidine glycol I excrete, 
the more DNA damage I have? 
Cutler: Yes. The solution is to prevent; as 
much of that damage as possible. And 
that's what our assays will do. If urine anal- 
ysis shows you have high rates of DNA 
damage, I'll take blood tests. I might find, 
for instance, lhat you have trouble absorb- 
ing vitamin E. The solution might be as 
simple as doubling your consumption of 
'.hat vitamin. You'll come back in two weeks, 
and if lack of vitamin E was the major prob- 
lem, then signs of excessive DNA damage 
in your urine sample should be gone. Peo- 
ple could come to us early in their life, be- 
fore signs of aging appear, and we might 
be able to readjust their system tor a longer, 
more normal lite span. 
Omni: Can we increase our MLSP beyond 
one hundred and ten years? 
Cutler: The next step is trying to increase 
the net levels ot antioxidant protection in 
our cells: to change the set point to a higher 
level. Evolution itself continually increased 
the primate set point for longevity by in- 
creasing the production o! protective sub- 
stances. We have to understand the evo- 
lutionary process and push it still further. 
Many diflcrcy. strategics have evolved 
to decrease "he poss.oie aging efiects of 
free radicals. One might try, for example, 
to trick cells into thinking they were under 
more oxidative stress than they really were. 
When you exercise you burn more oxy- 
gen, produce more free radicals, and also 
generate more anfoxican: protection. II you 
could trick the cells into thinking exercise 
was taking place when it wasn't, then you 
might increase production of more antiox- 
idant while free-radical levels stayed the 
same. The question is, What's the mecha- 
nism by which the body recognizes that 
it's under oxidative stress? A particularly 
exciting possibility is the existence of a 
central coordinating lactor. If it exists, one 
could identify and manipulate it without 
complex genetic engineering. 
Omni: Have you narrowed in on this so- 
called factor? Have you ever tried to trick 
the cells yourself? 

Cutler: We embarked upon such a pro- 
gram years ago. We started from a simple 
fact: Damaged DNA, one result of oxida- 
tive stress. procLCCs mo'oculcs known as 
thymidine dimers. When the DNA is re- 
paired, the dimers are removed, and you 
can detect their presence in the blood. The 
more dimers you "find, the more DNA dam- 
age has occurred. We injected these di- 
mers into mice, hoping their presence 
would cause the cells to think the damage 
was extreme and- to respond with excess 
production of antioxidants and other pro- 
tective substances We nad two groups of 
mice: one injected with dimers, the other 

with a placebo. ~ncn we irradiated both 
groups of mice with X rays for twenty days. 
X rays, of course, produce stress, damage 
DNA. After a couple of weeks all the con- 
trol mice were dead, but most of the thy- 
midine-dimer mice were still alive. The thy- 
midine-dimer mice ended up living about 
twice as long. This strategy seems to have 
worked, but we can't say for sure until more 
studies are done. 

Omni: It this work pans out, could people 
perhaps inject themselves with thymidine 
dimers. trick their cells, and live longer? 
Cutler; It's not likely. A better idea is to ac- 
tually understand the mechanism, the cen- 
tral controlling factor. One possible factor 
triggering the genes that produce antioxi- 
dants is a messenger chemical known as 
cyclic GMP When I injected cyclic GMP 
into mice, it protected them against radia- 
tion. Such experiments suggest that we 
might be able to artificially enhance our 
levels ot protection without having to over- 
haul the body as a whole. We could well 
see pharmaceutical agents that intervene 
at the normal set points, actually expand- 
ing the MLSP. 

Omni: How many years do you think we 
might gain through such therapy? 
Cutler: It's hard to say. though the increase 
would probably not be radical because this 
technique imitates just part of the evolu- 
tionary process. To double or triple human 
longevity, we'd probably have to rely on 
neoteny iise'f 3y slowing ai! stages of de- 
velopment and delaying production of sex 
hormones, we'd retain more of our fetal and 
early-childhood features into adult lite. 
Neoteny as a mechanism for increasing 
longevity doesn't demand the develop- 
ment of new morphological forms, only the 
adjustment of the overall rate of the genetic 
program. Neoteny is an example of how a 
few regulatory genes can efiect vast 
changes in overall morphology. 

A neotenous version of Homo sapiens, 
with an MLSP of perhaps two hundred 
years, would be slightly taller and heavier 
than ourselves. But the head and the brain 
would be twice as large. The individual 
might reach sexual maturity at thirty, and 
that thirty- year-old would be proportioned 
just like an eight-year-old Homo sapiens. 
But the most fascinating characteristic of 
this Homo futurus might be the retention 
into adulthood of childlike behavioral char- 
acteristics. Homo sapiens already retains 
into later life some of the infantile traits of 
animals — curiosity, playfulness, the ability 
to learn. The new species will retain even 
more behavioral traits from the human 
childhood, such as the ability to learn spo- 
ken and mathematical languages and the 
intense urge to explore. Some of our great- 
est scientists and musicians, from Einstein 
to Mozart, appear to have been exception- 
ally neotenous People always say, "He may 
be a great scientist, but he's like a child." 
They don't realize that perhaps being like 
a child is what made him great. 
Omni: You've set your distant sights on the 
creation of lbs suoeireolcnous race? 

170 OMNI 

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uais survived much beyond thirty, with 
people dying of infectious disease and all 
ihe various, random natural hazards. The 
death of an individual depended not on 
how old he was but rather whether or not 
he happened to get caught. Civilization 
eliminaied many of these hazards, sub- 
stantially reducing the random component 
of survival. Suddenly people had a more 
uniform life span, limited by aging itself. 

The preserve of aged people in our so- 
ciety today is an artifact of civilization. Se- 
nior citizens and the problems of caring for 
them are not natural to our species. Many 
people claim that increasing life span, in- 
cluding a longer period of decline, would 
only make the problem more extreme. But 
my studies show just the opposite to be 
true. Conferring even five or ten years ot 
extra, healthy life on, say, a scientist or en- 
gineer would be an economic boon to so- 
ciety. Even more important, while random 
hazard has been drastically reduced, it still 
exists. People die via plane and car crashes 
every day. li people had the biological po- 
tential to live for six hundred years, accord- 
ing to insurance company statistics, there's 
almost a one hundred percent chance of 
meeting an accidental death. So with ran- 
dom hazards remaining as they are today 
no one would worry about the problems of 
aging. We'd have returned to a society of 
youth. The closer society gets to that six- 
hundred-year life span, the less old age 
we'll have. 

Omni: Why is six hundred years the opti- 
mum human life span? 
Cutler: There isn't a shred of evidence for 
any real bottleneck on the evolution of lon- 
gevity. But there's a practical limit: A six- 
hundred-year-old would have to wait ninety 
years to become sexually mature. 
Omni: I'd wait thousands of years if it meant 
I could live forever. 

Cutler: But these longer-lived versions of 
man would probably be intelligent enough 
to come up with novel approaches to life 
extension. After we'd tripled or quadru- 
pled our life span by enhancing mecha- 
nisms used during the natural increase of 
longevity, new means for increasing life 
span would evolve. In that instance you're 
talking about life spans of thousands of 
years. I can imagine the removal of all in- 
ternal organs, from the liver to the spleen, 
because they generate toxic by-products. 
There'd be no need for a digestive system, 
only a mechanical heart to pump fluid 
through a "body," You'd "eat" a predi- 
gested medium full of all the critical nu- 
trients and vitamins. Ultimately, because 
biological tissue can last just so long, you 
might eliminate the biological components 
for virtually everything but your brain. The 
brain itself would be enhanced by antioxi- 
dants and periodic transplants of new, 
healthy cells. But with life span extending 
beyond .six hundred years, you'll start to 
see increasing anxiety over the possibility 
of accidental death. People would start 
trying to avoid accidents at anycost. You'd 
drop that sports car. Give up travel by 

plane. In fact, you might just hole up at 
home. You could build redundancy into 
your system, even isolate your brain in the 
equivalent of an iron vault and have it com- 
municate with your body electronically. If 
the body were destroyed, well, that could 
always be cloned or reproduced. 
Omni: What about you? On the cutting 
edge ot life extension research, you have 
various options for increasing your own 
longevity. At fifty, do you ever consider in- 
jecting yourself with thymidine dimers, 
cyclic GMR or anything else? 
Cutler: Not yet; I'm afraid of it. These sub- 
stances could turn out to be dangerous. 
My father will be eighty this December and 
is concerned about his aging, but I can't 
help him. I myself simply take vitamin E and 
beta-carotene capsules after every meal, 
hoping to reduce the possible mutagenic 
effects of food. I try to avoid particularly 
strenuous exercise. Though I know that the 
cardiovascular system can benefit from 
such exercise, I'm afraid that the gain may 
be more than ofiset by the extra oxygen 
metabolism and increased free-radical 
production. Right now there just isn't much 
we can do to extend life beyond the cur- 
rent MLSR 

Omni: Doesn't it bother you that you your- 
self might miss out on the increased life 
span you're helping to create and might 
die of natural causes at seventy or eighty? 
Cutler: Sure, I feel real bad about it. I'm like 
a person who studies cancer and sud- 
denly discovers he has cancer himself. He 
can do a self-diagnosis, make charts of it, 
watch it grow. That's what I've been doing 
in watching myself develop all the changes 
of age. But I also feel good because I'm 
contributing toward the ultimate extension 
of human life span. That's my replacement 
for immortality. Also, let's say you could live 
two hundred years. Then you'd feel bad 
because a six-hundred-year life span was 
just around the corner. Those with a'six- 
hundred-year life span would feel bad 
knowing that just a few generations later, 
they could have lived forever. That might 
be the worst feeling of all. 

The important thing is that people in 
general are becoming increasingly dissat- 
isfied with short life spans. Most politicians 
and scientists are still resistant to the idea 
of life extension. But historically, most rad- 
ical scientific movemenls started this way. 
You have''a few investigators who are con- 
sidered wild. They undertake a lot of hard- 
ships to produce some key experiments, 
triggering the interest of the general sci- 
entific community to go at it in a more care- 
ful way. Despite politics, I believe that hu- 
mans will want to increase their natural life 
span. We already have the hypotheses as 
to how this might be done. Around the year 
2000 some researcher may finally use ge- 
netic engineering to double the life span of 
a mouse. That will be the breakthrough. 
People will stop and say, " This isn't quack- 
ery. This is real." Thousands of scientists 
might ultimately get involved. And that's 
when the bulk of the work will bedone.DO 




Here is the solution to last month's 
J &B puzzle. 

1 | 1 | 1 B 2 



ll 1 

1 | 9 


2 | 1 


4 H 5 


1 4 

8 ■ 1 

o 1 




4 4 



9 | 5 

6 H 2 



7 H i 3 5 


I. 54 + 50 4- 8-1 = 111 
3. 2130 - 10 = 215 
6. 1984 *6 = 11904 
8. 24 x (90 + I) = 2184 

10. 63-10 = 53 

11. 42 + 6 = 48 

12. 61-51 = 10 

13. (6x8)-5 = 43 

14. 16 x 2 x 9 x 13 = 3744 
16. 666 x 66 = 43956 

18. 29 x 21 = 667 

19. 1927-1492 = 435 


1. 76 + 50 + 6 = 112 
x 11 x Q = 1188 
. 16 + 2 + 8 + i = 29 

I3l3x 8 = 10504 

7 x 7 x 7= S45 

2156 - 154 = 14 
'. 1024 x 14 = 14536 
. 42 x (11 + 11 + 10+ 101 

= 1764 
>. (75 x 6) -4 = 446 

(14 x 5) - 2 = 35 

17x25 = 425 
'. 48 + 49 = 97 

Memorial to the highest-paid writer 

By Scot Morris 

Who is the highest-paid writer of all 
time? The Guinness people once said it 
was Ernest Hemingway, who in 1960 
received $30,000 from Sports Illustrated 
for a 2,000-word article on bullfighting — 
a rate of $15 per word Ashleigh Brilliant, 
who writes epigrams and sells them 
on postcards, in 1981 got $5,000 for 12 
words in a TV ad: "I may not be totally 
perfecl, but parts of me are excellent," 
which works out to $416.66 per word. 
Coincidental^, the ad was for Sports Illus- 
trated. Brilliant recently told us that he 
thinks he should get the title as highest- 
priced writer, but in its latest edition 
Guinness cites a woman in Minneapolis 
who in 1958 won $500 a month for life in a 
"25 words or less" contest for Plymouth 
cars. By 1984, they say, her earnings had 
passed $6,000 per word. 

But since, as Guinness admits, "No 
known anthology includes Mrs. Schnei- 
der's deathless prose," and apparently 
even Plymouth never used her slogan, we 
would agree with Brilliant that she isn't a 
published writer, 

Well, we have another candidate for the 
award: Dmilri Borgmann, who once was 
paid $10,000 for a single word. 

In 1965 Borgmann published Language 
on Vacation, a book that set the 
standards for a field he called logology: 
the systematic study of wordplay, or 
recreational linguistics, or the science of 
words. In it Borgmann pointed with delight 
at such treasures as 
■ Subbookkeeper. The only word in the 
English language that contains four 
successive pairs of letters. 

• Tnennially. A word in which the odd and 
the even letters spell other words: Unify 
and renal. 

• Typewriter. The longest English word ' 
you can type in the top-letter row of a 
typewriter. The longest middle-row word 
is flagfails. QUESTION 1. What are 
aftercataracts and Johnny-jump-up? 

• The English aye and the French oui are ' 
synonyms, yet they have no letters jn 
common and together comprise all six 
possible vowels. 

182 OMNI 

• Shift each letter of steeds forward one 
place in the alphabet and you get another 
word, tuffet. A three-letter shift turns 
cold into frog. 

• Queueing contains !ive straight vowels. 
That's still not as many as Pofoooooooo, 
a British racehorse born in 1773. 
QUESTION 2a. How was this unusual 
horse's name pronounced? 
QUESTION 2b. Borgmann also posed 
this question: Of all finite numbers ever 
named, from 1 to 1 centillion, which 
number comes first alphabetically? 
QUESTION 2c. What do the answers to 
these two questions have in common with 
this issue of Omni? 

As a result of Language on Vacation, 
Scientific American called Borgmann 
"the country's leading authority on 
wordplay." Time described him more 
simply as a "a stark raving logomaniac." 

The book caught the attention of 
Standard Oil of New Jersey executives, 
who were searching for a new company 
name. They brought in Borgmann, Mario 
Pei, and other authorities on language. 
The final choice was EXXON, a Borgmann 
word that he guaranteed "means 
absolutely nothing." 

"I had a page of conditions to meet," 
Borgmann said. "The name could be 
no more than six letters. It had to have the 
overtones of a big company as well as 
scientific and chemical overtones. . And 
since the company had operations 
worldwide, the name couldn't be nasty in 
Swahili or any. other language." 

Borgmann's fee for delivering EXXON 
was $10,000, a rate of $2,000 per letter. 
That, we think, makes him the unqualified 
highest-paid writer of all time, and we 
petition the Guinness people to make the 
appropriate corrections. 


Borgmann died last December 7 at his 
home in Dayton, Washington. He was 
fifty-eight years old. We have tried to find 
out what we could about this man, but 
as a. publicity recluse he makes J. D. 
Salinger look like Jerry Falwell. 

Joseph fvladachy. editor of the Journal 
of Recreational Mathematics, acted as 

Squaring the ciicle: a classic word square. 

Borgmann's agent for Language on 
Vacation but never actually met him. 
Neither did Martin Gardner, who was 
responsible for getting Borgmann the job 
as founding editor of Word Ways, a quar- 
terly journal of recreational linguistics, 
in 1968. Nor did Howard Bergerson, who 
took over as editor for a year (1969) 
and remained a close friend of Borgmann's 
to the end (by telephone and letter only). 
And neither did A. Ross Eckler, who 
has edited Word Ways since 1970. 

"When he was in the mood," Eckler 
tells me, "Dmitri could turn out well-written 
articles at the rate of three or four a week. 
As a consequence, even though he is 
dead, I have enough material to generate 
two more memorial issues, in February 
1987 and February 1988." (Subscriptions: 
$14 a year from Word Ways, Spring 
Valley Road, Morristown, NJ 07960.) 

Borgmann delighted in taking a subject 
and writing about it so thoroughly that 
there was simply nothing more to say 
about it. In a recent article on palindromes 
he started with the shortest and worked 
up. Each letter of the alphabet is a 
palindrome, he said, but four are also 
words in their own right— A, /, O, and X. 
(O is the poetic exclamation, and X means 
to mark with an X). "The last of these 
words makes me a little uncomfortable," 
Borgmann wrote, "because it is spelled 
without a vowel." 

• Five letters. An interesting example at 
this length is SOHOS (hailing shouts used 
by huntsmen). Like its shorter compan- 

ion, NOON, it is a iour-way palindrome 
(lhat is. il also works forward and backward 
when turned upside down). 

• Seven. Reviver, top spot, race car. 

• Eight. Apollo, PA, a borough near Pitts- 
burgh,, and Snellen's test for visual acuity. 

• Nine. Rep. Pepper. That's Representa- 
tive Claude Pepper, of course, who has 
been a Florida congressman since 1963. 

• Eleven. Detartrated (separated from, 
or free of, tartaric acid). This, Borgmann 
said, is simply "the finest palindrome 
the English language has to offer." 


Borgmann lamented two influences on 
logology. First was the crossword puzzle, 
invented in 1913, which diminished inter- 
est in "more intellectual word recreations" 
such as palindromes, anagrams, and 
word squares. Second was the computer, 

which he said was ruining logology by 
taking the crealivity out of it. 

As an example, consider presidential 
anagrams (Borgmann himself made 
the pages of Newsweek just before the 
1964 election with a pair of anagrams of 
Lyndon Baines Johnson. One could 
be used if hewon: No ninny, he's on job, 
lads; the other if he lost: Ha, nod on, 
jobless ninny.) Recently a computer was 
programmed to find anagrams of Ronald 
Wilson Reagan. The best it found was 
No, darlings, no ERA law. Borgmann was 
delighted to point out thai the computer 
missed insane Anglo warlord, a human- 
generated Reaganagram. 

Another computer was programmed to 
find transposals. These are letter 
rearrangements, such as medical/decimal, 
harmonicas/maraschino, or Aristotelian! 
retaliations. For the letters aeginrst it 
found five: astringe, ganister, gantries, 
granites, and ingrates. Borgmann, who 
was willing to accept such things as 
names of people who might exist, had 
previously written an article with sixty-five 
transposals of the same eight letters, 

from angrie st to Tangiers. 


As our final tribute fo the founder of 
logology, we offer this quiz. 
QUESTION 3. Tangier is another accept- 
able name lor that seaport in Morocco, 
it has something in common with the 
wordsyob, polish, and nice. What is it? 
4. Borgmann once anagrammed his 
full name'in two ways, complimentary and 
derogatory, to depend on how history 
would judge him — grand mind, mortal 
fibre, and damn mad boring trifler. What 
was Dmitri Borgmann's middle name? 
■ 5. What is the only English word that ends 
in the letters mt? 

6. With one exception the name of each 
letter of the alphabet rhymes with some 
English word or words. Thus W rhymes with 
trouble you. What is the exception? 

7. What do the words ideality and oxyopia 
have in common? 

8. Chewed contains two pronouns, he 
and we What six-letter word, a noun, 
contains five different pronouns, each 

showing up as a solid word in its spelling? 

9. Sixty-one is the English spelling of a 
number with no repeated letters. It has 
eight. What number is spelled with the 
maximum number of letters without a 
repeat? What is the largest number that is 
spelled without repeated letters? 

10. The word square was the prototype of 
the crossword puzzle. An example of 
"squaring the circle" is on page 182. 

There are six different words here. 
In a double word square-there are 12 — 
the verticals and horizontals are different. 
In the RACISM and SCRAPE puzzles 
at left, can you fill in the missing letters? 

11. Kangaroo Words. You can take a word 
like indolent and cross out some letters 

to reduce il to idle, a word that means the 
same thing. Similarly, you can transform 
exists io is, and transgression to sin. 

The starting word contains a synonym, 
the letters of which are in the proper 
order. Such words are known as kangaroo 
words, since they're analogous to the 
animals that carry their young in a pouch. 
(Ironically, though Borgmann hated 
computers, this is a perfect game for 
word -processing computers because it 
requires you to strike oul letters without 
rearranging what's left.) What's in the 
pouches of the 15 kangaroo words below? 

1 . Pasteurized 9. Calumnies 

2. Exhilaration 10. Chocolate 

3. Illuminated 1 1 . Encourage 
4.' Catacomb 12. Destruction 

5. Satisfied 13. Masculine 

6. Deliberate 14. Instructor 
?. Precipitation 15. Regulate 
8. Myself 

12. Concealed Cardinals. It's easyto hide 
the numberter? in English words: tendon 
and steno are easy; lateness and fastening 
are even better because they change 
the pronunciation. Try to conceal the 
other ten cardinal numbers the best way 
you can, then compare your list with 
Borgmann's. Easiest are one, two, eight, 
and nine. For the others, the best yet 
found are obscure words and far-out, 
hyphenated coinages. For example, 
Borgmann's best hidden-zero offerings 
were prize-robbing and maze-roaming, - 

Answers appear on page 184. DO 


power to travel across the moonscape. A 
lighter vehicle is also tricky to control. The 
car will have lo be fairly stable. Race over 
a hill too quickly, and both driver and ve- 
hicle may take off without notice. 
• The landscape itself is like a desert; the 
weather, brutal. Temperatures can run as 
high as 230°F at high noon on the moon's 
equator and plummet to - 290" at night. 

We are primarily interested in seeing 
what kind of imaginative and ingenious de- 
signs Omni readers can dream up. What 
do you see as the ultimate recreational ve- 
hicle for the moon? 

The grand prize for the most ingenious 
and feasible vehicle will be one ticket on 
Project Space Voyage, a low Earth orbit 
tour of our planet, scheduled for launch in 
1992. The tour includes a four-day briefing 
at a resort, an 8- to 12-hour trip, and then 
two days' debriefing at a resort. Space gear 
will be provided. This trip is offered by So- 
ciety Expeditions, which will be solely re- 
sponsible for determining winner's eligibil- 
ity to participate in the space voyage. If the 
grand prize-winner does not meet health/ 
eligibility requirements for the trip or de- 
clines the trip, or if the trip is canceled or 
delayed, an alternate prize of a two-week 
"Lost Islands of the Pacific" South Pacific 
cruise will be offered for 1987 or 1988 (does 
not include transportation to and from point 
of embarkation). If for any reason the alter- 
nate prize is unavailable or cannot be taken 
by the winner, Omni may award $500 as a 
consolation prize in lieu thereof. 

The second prize is a trip for one to the 
United States Space Academy (airfare in- 
cluded), the space camp for adults at the 
Alabama Space and Rocket Center in 
Huntsville. During their three-day stay, vis- 
itors will hear lectures and see movies on 
spaceilight and get a sample of astronaut 
training that includes simulated weight- 
lessness, flighv-ltosli'iy a real astronaut's jet 
pack, and participation in a simulated 
shuttle flight to the moon. Third prize is a 
telescope from Halley Optical. 

To enter the contest, print your name and 
address on a plain piece of paper and in- 
clude as proof of purchase the word STAR- 
TECH, cut out from atop page 167. In 200 
words or less (printed or typed only) de- 
scribe your vehicle. No drawings, please. 
No models. You must include in your de- 
scription the following characteristics of the 
moon buggy: size; weight; number of oc- 
cupanls it could carry; means of propul- 
sion; lop speed, performance capabilities 
(can it cross crevasses? how large? how 
steep a slope can it climb?); material of 
which it is made. You can assume there will 
be mining and manufacturing facilities on 
the moon. We know our satellite is rich in 
aluminum, iron, titanium, silicon, and oxy- 
gen. Any or all of these could be used to 
construct a vehicle. 

Send your entry lo Moon Buggy Con- 

184 OMNI 

test, Box 9113, Allston, MA 02134. Entries 
musl be received by December 31, 1986. 
We are' not responsible for lost, late, or mis- 
directed mail 

Entries will be judged by a special panel, 
and winners will be determined based on 
Ihe following criteria; creativity (25 per- 
cent); originality (25 percent), suitability for 
lunar terrain and environment (40 percenl); 
feasibility (10 percent). 

Contest is open only to residents of the 
United States, except employees (and their 
families) ol Omni Publications Interna- 
tional, Ltd., its subsidiaries o' affiliates, the 
judges, Society Expeditions, Inc., their re- 
spective advertising and promotions 
agencies, and Proaction Marketing, Inc. All 
federal, state, and local laws and regula- 
tions apply. Void where prohibited. 

Winners will be notified by mail and will 
be required to sign an affidavit of eligibility 
and release within 15 days of date of noti- 
fication. If not returned within 15 days an 
alternate winner may be selected. Winners 
agree to the use of their names and like- 
nesses for publicity purposes without ad- 
ditional compensation, Prizes are not 
transferable, assignable, or redeemable for 
cash. No substitution for prizes other than 
as stated. No duplicate major-prize win- 
ners. Taxes and transportation to grand- 
prize site are winner's responsibility. 

For names of winners send a stamped, 
sel I -addressed envelope to Omni Moon 
Buggy Winner, 1965 Broadway, New York, 
NY 10023-5965 by June 30, 1987. 

All entries received will be reviewed and 
the finalists submitted to our panel of 
judges, who will vote on the winning con- 
cept. Our panel includes 

• Colonel James Irwin, USAF (Ret.), Apollo 
15 mission commander 

• Gerard K. O'Neill, professor of physics at 
Princeton University and originator ol Ihe 
idea of orbiting space colonies 

• Isaac Asimov, noted author ot science fact 
and fiction 

• James M. Sisson, the NASA engineer who 
headed the learn thai des'gned Rover 

• Richard Petty, seven-time winner of the 
Daytona 500 

• Mario Andrelti, Indianapolis 500 champ 

• Leonard Nimoy, better known as Mr. 
Spock of Star Trek 

• Tom Brokaw, anchorman of NBC Nightly 
News and former candidate lor NASAs 
Journalist in Space program 

• Billy Dee Williams, actor who portrayed 
Lando Calrission in The Empire Strikes 
Back, and a graduate of the National 
Academy of Design 

• Edsel Ford, son of Henry Ford II and scion 
of the Ford family 

• Shirley Muldowney, the first woman to be- 
come a nations! hot -roe champion 

• Chuck Yeager, Mr. Right Stuff himself 

• Neil McAleer, author of The Omni Space 

• T C. Swartz, director of Project Space 
Voyage and founder of Society Expedi- 
tions, Society Expeditions Travel Com- 
pany, and American Space CorporationCO 


1, Aitercataracts is the longest word lhat 
you can type using only the left hand; 
Johnny-jump-up (a variety ol pansy) is Ihe 
longest right-hand word. 
2a. Potatoes = "Pot plus eight o's." 2b. The 
first alphabetical word is eight. 2c. This is- 
sue marks Omni's eighth anniversary. 

3. All the words change their pronunciation 
when lowercased or capitalized. 

4. Alfred 

5. Dreamt 

7. Both are examples of "most syllables with 
fewest letters." The rarer word oxyopia gets 
five syllables out ol seven letters. 

8. Ushers — us. she, he, her, and hers 
9a. Five thousand 9b. Five thousand 

11. 1. Pure 2. Elation 3. Lit 4. Tomb 5. Sated 
6. Debate 7. Rain 8. Me 9. Lies 10. Cocoa 

11. Urge 12. Ruin 13. Male 14. Tutor 15. Rule 

12. One. It's easy, as in money or droned. 
Two. Driftwood and network work. Three. 
Borgmann found North Reef Island in Ihe 
Bay ol Bengal and coined forth-reeling and 
path-reentering. Four. How aboul half-ours 
and Baltourism? Five. Most difficult. The 
best offered are the contrived half-lvehan 
and Sufi-venerating. Six. We can't do bel- 
ter than quasi-xenophobia. Can you? 
Seven. Abuse-venting, house-ventilating. 
Eight. Easy, with heighten and freighter. 
Nine. It's in uninervate and Apennines 
(mountains on the moon).OQ 


NASA . ;:.- 

Stat page 26, 

ge34, U> '.'-..:■ 

■::■:■.]■ lei; -J I l,il page 52 top, 
page 52 bottom, Oly:i Simsj-jS; . page 53 
Rf : .?c? e ,"." 9ht ' c ™ r ' e |V° fNR A ° ;A 

I page S4 top, 

po'a- i page l°P 

ii. in 

s. page 56 bot- 

Science >ir..-e Hie,:, i i, :s ,-.vii"; pag 

■yi ■ ' , page 58, . "i i ■.:..■,. I 

■IcA'vJ i'.-;:: 

d bottom left. 

1 pi 

70 right, -h- 

Space Art; pages ?(• to w.'\ 

■ page 78, ■-:;■ 

K.m page 79, Fred nso-ror page B0 top, i-si r -±=- 

man. page 80 cento -..,-,,■ 

righP%,n 6 

age 80 bottom 

e Art. page 81, 

page 118. Ji- 

..-■< pages 122 to 125, E 

ll C Lenw: 

11 ■ -.wiV page 132 left, Bo 

"'/:';'! ■-J? a 9f 

133 right, Breck R '.en in-.iis'Anm, 

■ page I?.*-..: 

'-!'/,-. IJi:-.-.!.pa9si67,?-:".vcr. -:.■■. uage 
Hj.-i; page 168 right. kVnsi c-,.:-.:-v<,- 

page 169 top, 

Pi-:": i-iy-i page 169 center, - Knt:ri 

169 Bottom. ■ 


By Terry Runte : 

im! want to do all. 
-the old-people things : 
yiseeonTV. ■ 

:::/ want-to tie set in my ways. 
■ I want to repeat 
: myself a Sot Qld age 
: is wasted ,-?" 
iron theelderly3; 

The bounce his . 

knuckles one. more time. . ., 

"Look, squrt. you'-e holdmg up the fine. 
You gonna show me some proper I.D., 
or do I haita age you with my knuckles?" 

Bud Carter sighs as he digs tor its 
wallet one more'kme. He produces s. 
yellowed docu'neni -lowered with a dozen 
overlapping government seals,' wittya 
rotogravure photograph. The photo, 
though iaciod and cracked over the 
decades, is the mirror image of Carter's 
boyish face. 

''What ihe heU is ih-s supposed to be"?" 
the bouncer bellows. 

'Ti's a draft card, son.'' Carter replies. 
"Don't you boys have any respect tor 
a veteran around this loin'?" 

The bouncer, who's never scon a draft 

' :''. ! i\ ■ ■ . i I 'i ! ■ ' ' '■'■■',! i. 

ca'eir.hy, funow-ng his eyebrows. 

"it don't say nothing about Vietnam 
here," he says. 

Bud rolis nis eyes i' ■ p-eps ■■ or the 
•nev table "Thats because Irs horn the 
Spanish ■ American War. you :diot : Carte- 
is shchput a record 32 feet cut ol the 
bar. As ho dusts him sell oh. ho gathers 
up Me other i.D.s "he bounce* ■ ec:ed ■-■■■ 
his autogyro pilot s license, his passen- 
ger pigeon hunting perml n ■ i hei . 
perrr-i; from :ho temtcry of New Mexico. 

■ Bud Carter 
ihe wood's cmy immorta 1 man. 

Carter >.s at the center of a legal bathe 
that has been raging in courtrooms tor 
ihiC a >■' id* hi ■ ■ 'i i where eve" 
else is exercising and dieting to siay 
young. Bull has been fighting So have 
hnmsek surgically aged. 

We catch up with him on the sheets of 
Chicago, where he hikes rus daily walks, 
just like old people do. ' Wren I firs; 
realized I was irnmo; tai. it seemec like the 
greatest lining In the world, ' Carter says. 
"But Ive boon nineteen lor one hundred 
four years now and li's really siarting 
to wear thin You try living -or a century with 
a major aone problem." 

No one is actually sure why Carter's 
: ir. 1 . 
is a malfunction ol his cental nervous 
system— ihe result of having been struck 
in the nead by llyhiiring a John 

Philip Sousa ' ui ' i " ■ liter Si ! ' I oks SO 

his story thai ho is mmor'tal because 
he starts cacti day with a good breakfast, 
which ; nolucies a heaping bowitui of 
f'uii-iavorec Sugar Frosiod Rakers, 'vies! 
experts, however, believe tne latter claim 
sten's horn a lucrative endorsement 
deai he signed with Keiiogg in 1957, 

Whatever tne cause of his ate-nat youth, 
a !■. ," etc r ■> ■ ■: ■no '..v..'i ■ ■ ■■' '.i 
California ir 
by surgically s'imuieling the pituitary 

giai mi' i ■'■:':'■■ hcnr'n ics 

fhey can accelerate Carter to his natural 
age of one hundred fwenty-lhreo years. 

"Even though i'm physically ohy a 

.teenager. I long ior the comfort of old age," 

Carter claims. "I want to do all the old- 
peopio things I see-on TV, like sitting on 
the porch, drinking old-fashioned lemonade 
. or yelling at the neighborhood kids when 

tney walk ou my arc- wort ::■ oe set 
in my ways. I want to repeat myseli a lot. 

"Old age." he sighs, "is wasted on 
iiheeiderlyi" . 

Bui what about the jovs v ou;r 

'ticys of youthi" he says li-te me 
canta iken rsge; - he 'wisi ■"■; 

■'Remember-how much you hated being 
' .nineteen? The pressure : s cut incredible! 
Every true a ire-ray i" ■ ■> iasbu; 
along, ycu nave to buy if. Every time 
there's a new dance step, you have to 
learn it. You 'y catch- 

phrase thai comes down the pike and then ' 
forget t two weeks later I sir: don't know 
what >wen:y-!hree sk/odoo means 

Scientists had hoped we could learn 
mere horn his century or" knowledge; .But ■ ■ 
Carl e r claims there is mi any tiling to learn. 

■ i u. ., ■■■ ■ torch .use o KrtuW- 
ooge. ' ne . .u.u. ■.■ admits. - :■ .. : ■ .i i 

Wit I I j '■■ !■ ■ iV'Cd |. .!, .:■. Idy 

war. :: Bu; most of if 
is the kind of stuff that mailers only when 

" ysu're a teenager. You oouhj i no most 
of ii In back .ssues of iocer Beat. All ' 
have to show for my century on this 'olanot 
is a dozen closets lull of oui-o'-daie 
.clothes and 
Tsrnrt Bui did I tell you the secret of 

■ eternal life? To start each day w;lh a big. 
big Powi of my iru;i- flavored 'lakes." 
Cane cocks his head and servers the 

II.. ;.'...■;, f ■ ■!. ii; :. i. ■ miiini::.' '■> 

children each- Saturday morning for 
decades "Tney to luuuuuuuuuilllliii of 
SUGAR c . , ; ■.■,., ..:■■. :, .■„ i-ze 
h'mi are ask for autographs. Then we 
continue our walk 

As Carter prepares lor next monies 
surgery woico wd ihliili his lifelong cream 
o^ becoming a doddering, infirm geezer 
■■-knave to ask hi:-; T mere were anything he ■ 
'■enjoyed about ho-nc eternally young. 
He causes or 1 ihe euro and smiles :o 
himself his face ciowno with fond 
memories. We star! to cross the street. 
"■' always hao a great love life." Carter 

.■.li:M :■■ .■!. :, .■ ; ..■ 'u ■■ , I ■■ :■ i ■ :. I 

he ultm.are pick-up line, in over a century 
of dales. II nasoi failed m ■ ■■> ; 

the most significant -now edge i can 
passon to you.' He pauses io ■ md 

iiX.ll 'i '. ■.■'■' ■'■■ :■ ■ ■ ■ = ■ r ■■■ 

eyes and say . 

Carter's voice Is cut oh by inc horn of a 
taxi. There's a flash of yellow a Ihud, 
and a limp Peoy \ > Ihe i ac As I ,,; 
toward him can see hi od- : wi he; 
and age line a movie vampire Bud 
Carter one honored twenty- throe vears